Final push to get tax clinic clients signed up through ACA
PITTSBURGH, PA (March 24, 2014) – As the deadline to sign up for coverage through the Affordable Care Act approaches, Just Harvest’s free income tax preparation program is offering its clients a chance to sign up for free or low-cost health care insurance.
“When tax season started this year, we realized that a lot of our clients did not know they were eligible for healthcare through Obamacare,” says Kristie Weiland Stagno, Just Harvest’s tax campaign coordinator. “The timing of the enrollment deadline and tax season were perfectly aligned. So we decided to train our volunteer tax greeters about new health insurance options too.”
Just Harvest offers its free tax preparation assistance at four sites in the Pittsburgh metropolitan area every year. This is the first year however that the organization has provided tax service consumers with information about healthcare.
“For the past three or four years I haven’t had any kind of health insurance,” says Lynn Bundy, a Just Harvest tax client who was just enrolled in health coverage at the South Side site. “I would go to free clinics but I just didn’t feel secure – I knew I had nothing to fall back on if something serious happened to me. So finally getting coverage is just a huge sigh of relief.”
Significant numbers of the people whom Just Harvest volunteers have helped prepare taxes for have also been eligible for health care.
“Our tax preparation program is a tool to help low-income people get out of poverty,” says Ken Regal, Just Harvest’s executive director. “However, lack of access to health insurance is a huge cause of poverty and debt. So linking these two services together really made sense to us right now.”
Those who are eligible for healthcare through the Affordable Care Act have to enroll by March 31. Otherwise, they’ll have to wait until the fall to receive access to healthcare.
To make sure all who are interested are able to get signed up in time the Consumer Health Coalition will continue to be on hand at Just Harvest’s South Side tax site throughout March.
“You never know when you’ll need to seek medical care” says Beth Heeb, executive director of the CHC. “So people shouldn’t wait; they should schedule an appointment to meet with an application counselor today.”
This enrollment effort builds on extensive statewide education and outreach work by Pennsylvania Voice to increase awareness of the Affordable Care Act.
Founded in 1986, Just Harvest works in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania to end hunger and poverty.