The Affordable Care Act requires that most Americans obtain health insurance by March 31 or pay a tax penalty, or they will face a penalty applied to their annual taxable income for each month they don’t have health insurance after that.

The Sparks Health System and Summit Medical Center are offering help with the process of signing up for those that have not yet, according to Charles Stewart, market CEO for Summit and Sparks.

Based on household income and dependents, some may be eligible for health insurance coverage at no cost through Medicaid. Others may be eligible for new health insurance on the Health Insurance Marketplace – and financial help from the government towards the cost of premiums may be available to them.

"From reviewing insurance plan options to assisting with the actual application process, both hospitals have certified application counselors on hand to help you navigate the Health Insurance Marketplace," Stewart said. "This is where Sparks and Summits can help the uninsured in our community.".

With many people lacking access to a computer or just need help maneuvering through the enrollment website, Stewart said Summit and Sparks application counselors can help.

Both medical centers have offered to assist individuals and families in evaluating available health plans and determining if they’re eligible for Medicaid or other insurance options, he said.

To set up an appointment, call (479) 441-5662 in Fort Smith or (479) 471-4532 in Van Buren.