ACA, known as Obamacare, open enrollment starts Saturday

Published: Nov. 12, 2014 at 11:24 PM MST|Updated: Nov. 26, 2014 at 11:28 PM MST
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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - It's time to head back to

for thousands of people in southern Arizona.

A new round of Affordable Care Act enrollment is about to start.

There are few new things to know about the ACA, also known as Obamacare, this year.

One of the most important is that this open enrollment period, that starts Saturday, is only three months long.

It ends February 15, 2015.

That's much shorter than the last one.

There are a lot of groups gathering to help with sign-ups and re-signups.

Leaders of local government, non-profits and others gathered Wednesday to get the word out about open enrollment.

They encouraged people who have no health insurance to start the process.

The United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona Senior Director of Health Andrea Chiasson says there are 103 health care plans available in Pima County.

She says there is time for people who are new to the marketplace to review the plans and, "Get a feel for what you might be looking for. You can also get a feel for what financial assistance might be available to you in the form of tax credits and cost sharing reductions."

People who already have a health plan through the federal marketplace are encouraged to go back and make sure everything is how they want it.

"If you enrolled last year during open enrollment or during a special enrollment period and you're covered right now, you should still go in and take a look at your information in the marketplace at

. You should also check to see that you're plan is still being offered and you're happy with it. If you're not, now is the time during enrollment to make changes," Chiasson says.

A current enrollee also spoke at the open enrollment announcement.

Carol Klamerus says she's a self-employed Tucsonan who was having troubled paying for health insurance before the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, was passed.

She says she could not afford preventive care under her old plans.

Klamerus says under the ACA, "I got preventive medication or care this year so I was able to get my shingles vaccine. I finally got a colonoscopy. It just cost me a little bit. And I just think that a lot of people don't realize that whatever plan they choose, preventive care is free."

The penalty for not signing up for the ACA, unless you have a waiver, starts small, but then grows every year.

Hispanics in the Tucson area are especially being targeted.

Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Lea Marquez Peterson says about 31% OF Tucson area Hispanics are uninsured.

That's higher than other groups here in tucson.

Lea Marquez Peterson, Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce: "There's a lot of preventive medical care that can be provided that would help tackle issues like the high rate of diabetes or obesity or cervical cancer and things like that that are more prevalent in the Hispanic population versus the general population. This is also important because, as Hispanic small business owners we tend to not be as insured as the general population also," says Marquez Peterson.

Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild says getting more Tucsonans signed up for health insurance is good for the city.

"So much of what the Affordable Care Act does is provide preventive care for people--which they didn't have access to. What we've learned is, if people can stay healthy, they're going to be happier. They're going to be more productive at work, and our community, as a whole, is going to be more prosperous," Rothschild says.

Pima County Supervisors Chairwoman Sharon Bronson joined Rothschild in the push to get more people into the health insurance Marketplace.

"The goal is a healthy population. And if you enroll you get preventive health care and we know that especially low-income folks don't have access to preventive care because it costs money. You sign up for the Affordable Care Act and it's free," Bronson says.

For information on signing up or to find help signing up go to the


There also is information at the Pima County website.

Click here to see dates and times of enrollment events where you can get help signing up for the health insurance, or re-signing up under the ACA,

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