First ACA deadline for 2015 is Monday night

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Monday is the deadline for people who had healthcare under the Affordable Care Act in 2014 to renew their plans for 2015 if they want coverage to start on Jan. 1. (WLS)

Monday is the deadline for people who had healthcare under the Affordable Care Act in 2014 to renew their plans for 2015 if they want coverage to start on Jan. 1.

Health care enrollment in 2013 became a national nightmare with problems at the call centers and with the website.

This year experts say things are running much better. Instead, this time around, the test is whether the program itself is practical for the people it's intended to serve.

Already, nearly 1 million people have applied for coverage under the Affordable Care Act this year.

At an enrollment workshop at a health clinic near the University of Illinois at Chicago, representatives from Get Covered Illinois wait to help people sign up for insurance before the Monday night deadline.

"Over the last month, it's been consistent, yet steady stream of enrollments," says Brian Gorman of Get Covered Illinois.

The deadline for new customers to pick a health plan that will take effect on Jan. 1, 2015, is 11 p.m. Central Time. Current enrollees can make changes to their health plans by that same deadline, which will also take effect on Jan. 1. Those changes could reduce the cost of premiums which are expected to increase in 2015.

Experts say there are more health care plans to choose from this time and comparing plans could save money.

"The reality is that financial situations may have changed plans," says Gorman, "so there may be an opportunity for you to save a few extra dollars on your premiums and find a plan that meets your needs a little bit better than what you have."

Nearly 7 million people nationwide have coverage through the Affordable Care Act.

Henry Taylor, CEO of Mile Square Health Center near UIC, says business has increased 300 percent, with newly-insured people seeing doctors for the first time.

Taylor says the hope is that wider access to insurance means people won't have to wait until an emergency to seek medical attention.

"Especially for men who have been without healthcare," Taylor says, "if you're not a veteran, their choices for getting health care are very limited."

Enrollment counselors say they are also starting to see more people worried about incurring fines for remaining uninsured. The fines go up substantially in 2015, to a minimum of $325, as opposed to $95 in 2014.

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