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Maryland Health Care Sign-Up Fair Draws Hundreds

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The clock is ticking. As the deadline to enroll in Obamacare looms, many Marylanders still haven’t signed up.

But, as Gigi Barnett explains, an event this weekend gives them some face-to-face help and a chance to beat the deadline.

Face-to-face and step by step. It’s the personal touch some Marylanders need to log on to the state’s healthcare website and sign up for the Affordable Healthcare Act, also called Obamacare.

The free enrollment event this weekend is a last ditch effort for many uninsured to get on, because the deadline draws near.

“It’s discouraging, frustrating,” said Andrew Morton.

Morton has tried to sign up for healthcare since November. He’s been kicked off the website and it glitched out time and again, but Morton didn’t stop there.

“I even went to the library and filled out the paperwork. Somebody was supposed to contact me, they never did,” Morton said.

Now he’s at the Baltimore Convention Center, hoping that some face time will be the last time.

“I cannot make a judgment until I actually get something, see the different plans that they have,” he said.

“There are a lot of people that are just not comfortable with using the Internet,” said Kathleen Westcoat, Healthcare Access Maryland.

Westcoat heads up the nonprofit and says a personal navigator can help bridge the digital divide.

“People did have much success,” she said.

So what happens if you don’t sign up by the March 31 deadline? There will be penalties: at least a $95 fee or 1 percent of your income, whichever is greater. This weekend alone, navigators will help between 500 and 700 people.

The penalties for not enrolling increase every year. After March 31, the minimum that’s $95 today will be $695 by 2016.

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