Tuesday, October 1 is the first day to register for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. Courtney Burke, Deputy Secretary for Health in New York, stopped by the Syracuse Community Health Center Tuesday to get the word out about the new health care options.
"In Syracuse and the Finger Lakes there are 300,000 people who could potentially qualify through the new health exchange," says Burke.
As a translator at the refugee center in Syracuse, Habiba Boru has met many people over the years without health insurance.
"I come across people who don't want to go to the hospital because they don't have health insurance and fear the bill that's going to come after them. And them not being employed, how are they going to pay this bill off," says Boru.
Boru has insurance, but came to learn about the new option provided by the state and is now excited to pass on the good news.
"I can go back and tell them, you don't have to be scared. If you're sick, you don't have to be afraid of the bill," says Boru.
Nadine Brown, 63, has health insurance but wishes the Affordable Care Act was around when she didn't.
"I didn't want to go to the doctor but I know I needed to go to the doctor but I didn't want to pay for it. So I would suffer instead of going to the doctor. Yes it would have helped a lot back then," says Brown.
Brown hopes younger generations will consider this new, affordable option.
"They're going to get sick and they're going to get older and you need to look at your options. You might think you don't need it but you will need it in the long run," says Brown.
Now that health care is a requirement, not an option, going to the doctor doesn't have to be an option either.
The state is encouraging people to visit the website nystateofhealth.ny.gov or call the toll free number 1-855-355-5777 to find out if they're eligible.
The enrollment process is open until March, but if you sign up by December, your benefits will kick in at the start of the new year.