The days are winding down with less than a week to go before the deadline for signing up for the

Affordable Care Act.

March 31 is the deadline for signing up with the ACA. The penalty for not having insurance is $95 per person or per family or one percent of a person's income, whichever is higher. For uninsured children, the penalty is $47.50, half the rate it is for adults.

Matthew Ediger and Sheryl Slifer have been working for the past several months at Health Ministries as navigators, assisting people with signing up for the ACA. With the deadline approaching, many more people have been calling in for assistance, Ediger said.

"People are stressing under the urgency of this going away for quite a few months," Ediger said. "Since last week, our schedule has been booked. It's hard to fit in more people. It leads to a lot of frustration."

One of the biggest challenges has been having to tell people they do not make enough to qualify for the ACA based on income, but they make too much to qualify for Medicaid. They could still qualify for ACA. Howevever, they would not qualify for the advanced premium tax credit, which is based on their income.

"Kansas had the opportunity to expand Medicad," Ediger said. "It chose not to."

There have also been technical challenges, but those have eased significantly, Ediger said.

While people can get help by phone or can sign up on their own without any assistance, a lot of people find comfort receiving in-person help, Ediger said.

"That's where we come into play," he said.

Ediger noted that if people cannot get in to see him or Slifer, there are open enrollment events in Wichita in the next few days. There will be an open enrollment from 10 a.m. to noon, March 29 at the Wichita Public Library's central location at 233 S. Main St. There will be another open enrollment at the WPL from 5 to 7 p.m. March 31.

People are still welcome to come in or call for an appointment with the navigators at Health Ministries, located at 209 S. Pine St. The phone number is 281-7329.

"It's an optional service," Ediger said. "If people chose to utilize it, that's their choice. It's a free service. We're here if you want. Happy to help."