By Aaron Bracamontes
Thousands lined up Friday outside the El Paso County Coliseum, scrambling to enroll for health care under the Affordable Care Act just days before the national deadline.
Monday is the last day to register for health care or be fined $95 next year. There is a 15-day extension, until April 15, for those who have already begun the enrollment process.
“We’ve had the biggest rush since we started,” said Jennifer Buschick, Enroll El Paso’s program director.
On Thursday, “we had about 2,000 voicemails at our office.”
On Friday, people and families hurried to the Coliseum and four other enrollment events around the city.
The line at the Coliseum was about 100 yards long at times.
“That’s what we get for waiting until the end,” said Santa Lopez, 38.
Once inside, workers and volunteers had to make sure residents had the proper paperwork, an email address and a health care ID number before they could find an ideal insurance plan.
Maria Magallanes, 56, waited two hours in line to be told she had to get another form filled out
“I didn’t expect this,” Magallanes said. “It was a waste of time. But if I don’t come back today I will have to wait until tomorrow to go to St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Canutillo.”
Work and other obligations made it hard for Magallanes to make time to enroll before Friday. She also was confused on what paperwork she needed to have.