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Final Push for ACA

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA (CBS2/FOX28) With just a month and a half left in the open enrollment period for the health insurance through the Affordable Care Act, Linn County organizations are focusing their efforts on getting as many people as possible signed up with a plan before March 31st.

If there were ever a poster child for having health insurance, it would be Bob Pelletier.

After 35 years of safely riding and teaching others to ride motorcycles, witnesses said that they saw my motorcycle up in the air going like this. I ended up in the hospital for 5 months, said Pelletier.

He was healing from a variety of injuries, including two broken arms and a very serious brain injury. His recovery is expensive. Bob says it averages about $10,000 per month.

Heres the catch.

"My insurance ran out July 31st, and my accident was August 2nd, said Pelletier. Two days later. The insurance company doesn't take pity on you."

When Bob came to the Community Health Free Clinic as part of his treatment, they signed him up on the Healthcare Exchange. He qualified for Medicare, which covers all of his bills, from day one.

"I walk into the doctor's office or I walk into the drug store, I'm covered, said Pelletier.

Its Bobs story that healthcare providers have in mind when they meet with patients who are exploring their insurance options, which includes not signing up and taking a mandatory penalty.

"There are some that will say that financially, they're better off paying the penalty, at this point, said Certified Application Counselor Jean Bjorseth.

Thats part of the reason that the Linn County Community partnership is taking their message to the streets with mailers, brochures, newspaper and TV ads to get people enrolled before March 31st, when the penalties set in.

"And then what that does is it provides them the opportunity to pick up the phone, make that additional step of asking for one-on-one assistance, and then we can help them, said Affordable Care Act Outreach Specialist Jeff Tourdot.

The goal is to help them while they dont need money to pay medical bills, so the funds are there when they do.

"You don't want to be without insurance, because that's when it will get ya, said Pelletier.
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