Americans have until March 31 to apply for healthcare coverage under the Affordable Care Act to avoid paying a penalty.
If that deadline was Saturday, Polk County health officials estimate between 40- and 50,000-people in the county would have to pay the penalty.
With a little help, nearly 100 Iowans got a start enrolling for healthcare.
“There is a significant number of people from our population that could benefit from this opportunity,” said Rick Kozin, Director of the Polk County Health Department.
Dozens of volunteers gathered at the Evelyn K. Davis Center for working families to help a wide variety of people get enrolled.
Some coming in had never been insured or even seen HealthCare.gov, but were well aware of the benefits of having coverage.
“People without health insurance tend to delay getting care until they are sicker,” Kozin said.
Others, like Todd Warren, recently had their policies canceled.
Warren tried enrolling at home but ran into the same glitches that plagued thousands when the website launched.
“I tried online at home and it said it could not confirm my ID so I came down here to try and fix that,” said Warren.
Some enrolling walked out the door with insurance they hadn’t been able to afford in the past.
Unfortunately for Warren, he wasn’t one of them.
“It’s not going to save me money. The care I had before was pretty cheap and affordable,” Warren said.
Despite the cost, Warren feels it’s worth having.
“I need healthcare and I need to be covered. I can’t pay a penalty,” said Warren.
With the turnout Saturday, Polk County health officials plan on hosting future health care enrollment events.