/ Modified mar 24, 2014 4:19 p.m.

Local Organizations Make Final Push Going Into ACA Deadline

Open enrollment for the Affordable Care Acts' health insurance exchange ends March 31.

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Open enrollment for the Affordable Care Acts' health insurance exchange ends on March 31.

With that deadline less than a week away, many in Southern Arizona are making a final push to get people signed up for health insurance.

Some of the most visible include local politicians, who have been speaking to media outlets on the topic for months.

On the smaller scale are people like Katharine Weiss, who works with Enroll America.

Weiss spends her days asking people one simple question: "Do you have health insurance?"

This question helps her pass along information about how to get in touch with navigators, those who can help a person get signed up for health insurance through the exchanges.

"(Navigators) have rules against approaching people, whereas we can go up to anyone," Weiss said. "So. we’re very aggressive; we can stop people on the street and we’re like, ‘Hey, have you heard about the new health insurance options?’”

The work of people like Weiss is helping keep navigators at places, such as the Pima Community Access Program, very busy.

“We’ve expanded our hours, especially for March 31," said Cynthia Estrada, PCAP outreach supervisor. "We’re offering overtime to our staff to continue enrollments.”

Work for Estrada and her fellow navigators is only growing more hectic as the deadline draws closer.

“We were at an enrollment event where we spoke to (more than) 200 people," she said. "We had to send more staff to help those additional people to get enrolled.”

This final push is going on more places than just Arizona. People around the country are also exploring their health care options as the deadline approaches.

“We’re seeing an unprecedented surge in people and families who are interested in signing up," said U.S. Health and Human Services Department Regional Director Herb Schultz. "Last week, on the healthcare.gov website, we had 4 million visits, last weekend 1 million visits.”

And Schultz said he believes history indicates the coming days will only get busier.

“We saw it in Massachusetts’ experience when they expanded. We saw it with Medicare Part D, the prescription drug plan," Schultz said. "In the final couple of weeks, there were surges. We’ve already seen a significant, unprecedented surge, and we expect that to continue through the end, March 31.”

Find a list of organizations helping with ACA marketplace sign-ups here.

PCAP events announced via their Twitter page.

United Way of Southern Arizona's Navigator Program.

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