By Pat Warren

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Cold and flu season is a real-time reminder of the importance of health coverage, and the Maryland Health Connection is reminding everyone of an important deadline.

December 15 is the last day for open enrollment for affordable health care.

With everything that’s been going on in Washington, it’s important to cut through the confusion, and Maryland is offering all kinds of free help as the enrollment deadline approaches.

“We are the Maryland Health Care For All Coalition have heard the stories of people whose lives have been saved, who have been made much healthier and their finances in much better shape because of the Affordable Care Act,” says Vincent DeMarco.

While Washington debates the future of the Affordable Care Act, health officials urge Marylanders to take advantage of one-on-one assistance offered at 18 locations around the state.

Michele Eberle of the Maryland Health Benefit exchange says help is available this weekend.

“The 8th and the 9th is a critical weekend for getting in and beating the rush,” she says. “We don’t want you to wait in long lines or be on the phones for a long time. Look at your local libraries, many of the events are occurring at your local libraries.”

Marylandhealthconnection.gov gives times and locations, along with a check list of what to bring.

Those include: birth dates, social security or immigration document numbers, photo id, income information, such as tax returns and pay stubs, and policy numbers for any current health coverage you have.

House Speaker Michael Busch says 95 percent of Marylander now have health coverage since ACA began.

“It’s very important for as many people signed up as they possibly can,” says Busch.

Get more information about the Maryland Health Connection at MarylandHealthConnection.gov.

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