DALLAS – A few days before Christmas, Mirna Cervantes bounded through the doors of the Habitat for Humanity office here.
“Am I too late?” she said, rushing toward a fluorescent-lit room where workers sat at long folding tables, pounding away on laptops.
The Habitat building was temporary host to an Affordable Care Act enrollment event held by the Community Council of Greater Dallas, a local nonprofit.
“Some people would rather get help through someone who knows the process,” said Daniel Bouton, who’s a navigator—kind of a professional Affordable Care Act helper—with the Community Council.
In the state with the highest rate of uninsured people, his is a big job. “One consumer I saw hasn’t seen a doctor in 19 years, so he was going to Mexico to get his issues taken care of.” That man, Bouton said, was relieved after navigators helped him sign up for a plan on the federal exchange.
Obamacare scored a small, year-end victory as signups on the exchanges ticked up, with 975,000 people enrolling across the country in the past month alone. But surveys show that many people are still puzzled by the law and wary of the website because of its earlier, shoddy performance. As late as September, six in 10 people told a Washington Post-ABC News poll that they didn’t know what changes the law would bring. In states where the federal government is running the insurance marketplace, such as Texas, only 44 percent of people knew about the existence of the exchanges. In December, 36 percent of people told Consumer Reports that they (wrongly) believe Obamacare allows the government to determine which doctor they’ll see.