With the Monday night deadline for enrolling in health insurance fast approaching, outreach workers at Laman Library in North Little Rock were busy helping a number of uninsured Arkansans through the process.
Several officials with Pulaski County-based nonprofit group Future Builders Inc. were on hand at the North Little Rock library Monday, working their way through a list of people interested in enrolling that numbered about two dozen by late that morning. The walk-in enrollment help is available at the library through 5 p.m.
The deadline is 11 p.m. for those enrolling in coverage through the Affordable Care Act rather than through an employer. Those without coverage after the deadline could face a penalty.
Among those seeking help at Laman Library was Gregory Wright, a disabled 60-year-old North Little Rock resident who hasn't had health insurance in more than a decade.
Wright started the application process, but couldn't finish or choose a plan because he needed a proof of income document showing his disability benefits, he said.
Wright said he went to the library after hearing about potential fines and wanting to avoid them.
"When they say penalties, I don't need any more penalties on my income," he said, adding having insurance will also provide access to regular checkups and a sense of relief. "It's something I needed."
Calvin Anderson, 66, said he believed he did not need to enroll in coverage because he already has insurance through his retirement plan. But, while waiting to meet with an outreach worker, he said he wanted to be absolutely sure because he didn't want to make a mistake and have to pay a penalty.
"I'm just trying to make sure I'm crossing my I's and dotting my T's," he said. "You don't know if you're going to be fined ... I felt I had enough [insurance.] But at that last minute, I thought I'd better make sure."
Don Carter, a 63-year-old Little Rock resident, was also among those waiting to enroll. He said he's been without health insurance since retiring from a job in maintenance at Pulaski Technical College about two years ago.
Carter said he intended to enroll on his own, but problems with his computer prevented him. So he went to the library with the hopes of leaving with a plan.
"Especially as you get older, you don't like to take chances," he said. "It's going to be worth it."