Pennsylvanians sign up on final day

HARRISBURG – The deadline was just hours away to sign up for insurance in the first enrollment period under President Barack Obama’s signature health care law, and Erik Furness was just in time, with his tax filing in hand along with the hope that he could get health insurance.

The 47-year-old self-employed barber from Philadelphia created an account and expected to wrap up the process in the coming days, he said.

“Oh man, I’m very optimistic about it,” Furness said. “It’s a big, heavy load off my shoulders. … I haven’t had any health care, and in my profession, if I get sick, I can’t make a living.”

He was not procrastinating by showing up on the last day, but he had wanted to get his tax paperwork back from his overwhelmed tax preparer first, he said. He created an account at the online gateway to the law’s health insurance marketplace,, and was told that it would take a few more days to complete the process because of the huge volume of people trying to sign up.

Furness was one of the people who came into north Philadelphia’s St. Elizabeth’s Community and Wellness Center on Monday as part of an outreach event by Project HOME and the Pennsylvania Health Access Network.