It's The Last Day To Sign Up For Obamacare : Shots - Health News People continue to enroll in Affordable Care Act coverage, even as huge questions loom about where millions of people will find health care in a year.
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Last Chance To Sign Up For Obamacare, For 2017 And Maybe Forever

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Last Chance To Sign Up For Obamacare, For 2017 And Maybe Forever

Last Chance To Sign Up For Obamacare, For 2017 And Maybe Forever

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/512500360/512592808" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Now, today is the last day - for this year anyway - to sign up for the health insurance plans under the Affordable Care Act, which may seem a bit strange since most of the talk in Washington has been about getting rid of Obamacare. But NPR's Alison Kodjak reports that amid all this confusion, people keep signing up for coverage.

ALISON KODJAK, BYLINE: At Whitman-Walker Health in downtown Washington, D.C., yesterday, there was a steady stream of people looking for help enrolling in Obamacare. Katie Nicol is a senior manager who oversees five people whose sole job is to help people sign up for insurance coverage.

KATIE NICOL: We've been busy, you know, consumer after consumer all day.

KODJAK: Which may be surprising given all the uncertainty surrounding the Affordable Care Act. Not far from Whitman-Walker, Republicans in Congress and President Donald Trump are working to dismantle the health care law. Members of the House and Senate have taken the first steps to repeal the ACA, and Trump issued an executive order to roll it back. Still, as today's deadline to get coverage approaches, Nicol says demand for insurance hasn't waned.

NICOL: Our volume has been the same as it has in past years.

KODJAK: That tracks with the latest numbers released by the Department of Health and Human Services. As of January 14, 8.8 million people had signed up for coverage, slightly more than last year. Those numbers haven't been updated since Trump moved into the White House. Nicol says even as their clients pick insurance for this year, they worry about what happens next.

NICOL: We definitely have people coming in with a lot of anxiety surrounding the ACA and whether it's still going to be here for - just through the end of the year.

KODJAK: That's because Republicans have spent the last few months talking about repealing and replacing Obamacare. But the details of a new plan have been sparse.

The concern Nicol sees in D.C. is showing up across the country, says Jennifer Sullivan, a vice president of Enroll America, which works to get people affordable health insurance.

JENNIFER SULLIVAN: Between actions in Congress and actions from the new administration, consumers are confused. We are hearing that consumers are concerned and need clarification about what's available.

KODJAK: In recent weeks, several polls have shown that now that Obamacare is threatened, more people view it favorably. And that's likely at the top of mind of many congressional Republicans who are grappling with how to replace the ACA with a program that will ensure at least as many people have coverage.

Alison Kodjak, NPR News, Washington.

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