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October 10. 2013 9:33PM

Local effort to help understand Obamacare


A handmade sign points past the pumpkin patch during a public forum on Obamacare at Mack's Apples Thursday afternoon. Similar events are being planned at the Mammoth Road farm store over the next several weekends. (APRIL GUILMET/Union Leader Correspondent)

LONDONDERRY — For people who have questions about Obamacare, there is an alternative to trying to log on to the federal website.

On Thursday, officials from Organizing for Action joined local legislators and volunteers for a public health forum in front of the Mack's Apples farm store.

Kate Corriveau, OFA state coordinator, said the immediate goal is to alleviate any confusion or frustration surrounding the Affordable Care Act.

Plans are in the works to host similar events at Mack's Apples over the next several weekends, Corriveau said.

Windham resident Valerie Ronan, who volunteered at Thursday's event, said she felt it was important to reach out to people.

"I don't think people realize this is now available to them and they can take advantage of this," Ronan said.

Earlier in the day, a local woman approached Ronan to share her personal story. The woman said her health care had been covered through her husband's employer, but just two days ago he was laid off.

"She was very concerned she'd be paying for coverage out of pocket," Ronan recalled. "The fact that her husband is a cancer survivor and has a pre-existing condition added to her worries."

According to state Rep. Lisa Whittemore of Londonderry, many others are expressing similar concerns.

Whittemore, a Democrat, said the Affordable Care Act has already impacted her own family for the better.

Eighteen months after the family's COBRA coverage expired, her husband, Robert, was diagnosed with bladder cancer.

"He'd wanted to wait until his Medicare coverage kicked in," Whittemore said. "But with the Affordable Health Care Act, we were able to get on insurance despite Robert's pre-existing condition. Without it, we would have been in a dire situation."

Corriveau reminded those who have been unable to register for Obamacare online that there's still plenty of time to do so, and she advised folks to keep on trying."Enrollments just began on Oct. 1 and once things slow down a bit, more people will be able to register," Whittemore said.

Those who register and enroll by Dec. 15 will be covered by January 1. But open enrollment will continue through March 31, with those signing up after Dec. 15 to be covered within the following month.

"This is not a sprint, it's a marathon," said Tammy Siekmann, a member of the Londonderry Democratic Party. "We still have plenty of time to get this done and right now, our biggest goal is to encourage younger people to get enrolled."

For those who didn't make it out to Mack's Apples this week, information on the Affordable Care Act and its implications is also available by appointment at Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, which is serving as the state's navigator organization.

For more information, visit www.ppnne.org or send emails to getcoverednh@ppnne.org.


aguilmet@newstote.com


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