Big Iowa City Hospital Urges People to Get Covered

March  26, 2014

A big hospital in Iowa City has been working hard to help people sign up for health insurance before the end of the month. Last fall, the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics began offering free application assistance to patients and others, before the Affordable Care Act went into effect.

Tara Clark, from the Social Services department, says last fall, the hospital set up three enrollment centers where people could talk with "navigators" and sign up. The bulk of the applications were submitted online in December. But over the past couple of months, she says patients have been asking very specific questions. "Now they ask for help on clarifying their status, or they might ask how to appeal a decision. We help them sort through it all, and answer other  questions  related to their very complicated situations." 

Scott Turner is the interim Co-Chief Operating Officer for the hospitals and clinics. He says this month, the enrollment centers are emphasizing coverage under the expanded Medicaid program. "People have a short window, a rare opportunity to sign up for coverage to be sure they'll have peace of mind just in case there's a big health care event."

The deadline to sign up for medical insurance under the new federal law is Monday, March 31st. University hospitals navigators will answer questions by phone; the toll-free number is 855.844.8442. And questions may be submitted online at UIHealthcare. The Affordable Care Act web site is HERE.

In the Quad Cities area, hospitals and county health departments offer the same assistance.