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Affordable health insurance tips from health center visiting Edgewater Library

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If you missed the Affordable Care Act Dec. 23 deadline to sign up for health insurance, and you're uninsured or underinsured, Heartland Health Centers may be able to help with tips to pay.

This federally qualified health center organization will have a weekly representative available to talk to visitors at various times in Edgewater Library located at 6000 N. Broadway St.

For the month of January, the "Affordable Care Act: What Are My Options?" event times in the second floor community room of Edgewater Library are:

12 p.m. - 3 p.m., on Tues., Jan. 7.

12 p.m. - 3 p.m., on Tues., Jan. 14

12 p.m. - 3 p.m. on Tues., Jan. 21

12 p.m. - 3 p.m. on Tues., Jan. 28

Discussion topics will include Affordable Care Act Adult Medicaid, the Illinois Health Marketplace, eligibility and enrollment.

Heartland Health Centers' main location is located at 3048 N Wilton St., and services Chicago's north side. With 10 locations total, their site confirms that they cover nearly 21,000 patients who receive comprehensive primary care, oral health care and mental health care services. Their focus is the uninsured, and recipients of Medicaid, Medicare or private insurance.

Their uninsured patient stats are 67 percent adults and 17 percent children. The patients are 51 percent female, 40 percent school-age children; 48 percent Hispanic; 24 percent African American; 17 percent white; 10 percent Asian and 1 percent multiracial. Majority of their patients (78 percent) earn less than the federal poverty line.

For Chicago north side residents who are still interested in signing up for health insurance, the next sign-up deadline is Mon., March 31.

After that the next available sign-up slot will be from Sat., Nov. 15 to Thurs., Jan. 15 of 2015.

If you enroll from the first to 15th of the month, health insurance benefits will start on the first day of the next month. If you enroll from the 16th to the end of the month, health insurance benefits will start on the first day of the month after (ex. enroll on March 28 and health insurance will start on May 1).

The penalty for not buying health insurance will either be 1 percent of your yearly household income (maximum penalty is the national average premium of a bronze health plan) or $95 per person annually and $47.50 for a child under the age of 18 (maximum penalty $285).

The fee will increase every year. In 2015, the rate will be 2 percent or $325 per person.

In 2016, rates will increase to 2.5 percent or $695 per person.

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