The Whatcom Alliance for Health Advancement has organized events for this month and February to help people enroll in public and private health insurance as mandated under the federal health law popularly known as Obamacare.
The events in Bellingham and east Whatcom County are weeks out from the March 23 deadline for people to enroll for private health insurance that would begin April 1.
People may continue to sign up for private health plans through March 31, when the open enrollment period ends.
Signups for public Medicaid, which is for low-income residents, are allowed year-round because it doesn't have an open enrollment period.
Event times for face-to-face enrollment help include evening hours.
"We're hoping that kind of increases the access for people who might find the regular business hours restrictive," said Lara Welker, program manager for Whatcom Alliance for Health Advancement.
The Bellingham-based nonprofit was among 10 lead organizations chosen statewide to help consumers enroll in a commercial health plan or expanded Medicaid under Obamacare.
Most people must have health care coverage in 2014 or face a fine.
Event dates and locations are:
-- Thursday, Jan. 23: 4 to 7 p.m. at WorkSource, 101 Prospect St. Sign up by calling 360-676-1521 or going online to www.wa.gov/esd/EventCalendars/whatcom.htm, and scrolling down the main page until you find the event.
-- Tuesday, Feb. 4: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Goodwill, 1115 E. Sunset Drive. Call 360-738-0483 to sign up.
-- Thursday, Feb. 13: 4 to 7 p.m. at WorkSource.
-- Tuesday, Feb. 18: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Goodwill.
-- Thursday, Feb. 27: 4 to 7 p.m. at WorkSource.
People must make an appointment for the events at WorkSource and Goodwill.
-- Wednesday, Jan. 22: 4 to 7:30 p.m. at Sumas Public Library, 451 2nd St.
-- Thursday, Jan. 30: 4 to 8 p.m. at North Fork Community Library, 7506 Kendall Road (across from Kendall Elementary School, just off Mount Baker Highway).
-- Wednesday, Feb. 12: 4 to 7 p.m. at Sumas library.
-- Wednesday, Feb. 19: 4 to 8 p.m. at Deming Public Library, 5044 Mount Baker Highway.
-- Thursday, Feb. 20: 4 to 8 p.m. at North Fork library.
Call 360-599-3944 for more information about enrollment events at the libraries. People don't need to sign up before they go.
BEFORE YOU GO
Read up about what you need to know by going to WAHA's "Get Enrolled" page at whatcomalliance.org/get-enrolled.
From the "Get Enrolled" page, scroll down to the "Get Covered Step One Form" and click on it. That will take you to a form that should be completed prior to going to the events. The form also has information about other documents required, such as tax returns and Social Security.
Filling out the form and bringing the required documents will make it possible to complete an application.
"That's not to say people can't come, ask questions and get an application started," Welker said.
Reach Kie Relyea at 360-715-2234 or email@example.com .