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      Deadline to purchase health insurance edges closer

      The deadline to purchase health insurance under the Affordable Care Act is drawing near.

      Tax and health care professionals say this is something you don't want to wait on.

      Since January 1, the Adams County Health Department has assisted approximately 350 people people with getting insurance.

      That's part of the 4.2 million people who have signed up nationally.

      For those who need help navigating the website, the health department is one the places a person can go.

      But you'll need an appointment, and to act quickly.

      Betty Coonrod is the Special Projects Coordinator for the health department, and said they have been swamped with appointments.

      "It's crunch time," said Coonrod. "We're very busy. A lot of people have put off signing up for health insurance, and now they realize that the deadline is March 31 which is next Monday and they're starting to get nervous. Open enrollment closes, after March 31 people will not be able to purchase insurance, so they're getting concerned."

      Coonrod said appointments take around an hour.

      Across town at H&R Block, tax preparers like Tera Schultz have been fielding questions concerning subsidies involving insurance.

      For low income individuals or families, you may qualify for a subsidy.

      "One of the things that we're able to do with everyone's tax return here, we can actually at the end of the tax return, we can say all right, based on your income now, this is the estimate for how much your subsidy would be, if you're eligible for a subsidy and kind of give people just a little bit more information," Schultz said.

      Both Schultz and Coonrod believe not buying insurance can hurt you in the long run.

      "The penalty can affect people fairly significantly if they are not signed up for the health insurance," said Schultz.

      Coonrod agreed.

      "Professionally I don't think that's a good idea," Coonrod said. "I'm a nurse, so I feel that having good health coverage is very important. The young, healthy people think I'll just pay the penalty, it's cheaper than paying for insurance, I don't need the insurance. But you know one catastrophic event can ruin you financially."

      The penalties associated with not buying health insurance will increase every year.

      In 2014, the penalty will be either one percent of the taxable income or $95 per adult and $47.50 per child (up to $285 per family), whichever is greater.

      In 2015, the penalty will be either two percent of the taxable income or $325 per adult and $162.50 per child (up to $975 per family), whichever is greater.

      In 2016, the penalty will be either two and a half percent of the taxable income or $695 per adult and $347.50 per child (up to $2,085 per family), whichever is greater.

      There are exemptions to the penalty: they have financial hardships, they have religious objections, they're American Indian, they're uninsured for less than three months, they're an undocumented immigrant, they're incarcerated, and more.

      You can claim these exemptions when you fill out your 2014 federal tax return, or head to