DALLAS -- Government employees are making a final push this week to get Americans registered for health insurance.
The deadline to enroll on the online marketplace, Healthcare.gov, without a penalty is Monday, March 31.
About five million people have enrolled through the Affordable Care Act, a million less than the Obama administration's goal of six million.
Officials say the top challenges when it comes to sign ups have been people who don’t qualify for Medicaid, but still can’t afford coverage, and young people. Young, healthy citizens are key to making the system work.
Luis Veloz, 20, of Dallas recently signed up after he felt for first time the effects of not having health insurance.
Veloz earned a full, four-year scholarship to SMU, but had to walk away from it last year when his father, an uninsured construction worker, had a heart attack. Veloz suddenly found himself having to provide for the family.
"And that's when I realized there's something wrong with the health care system if a family has to decide between their child's education or paying a hospital bill,” Veloz said. “So I withdrew, [and] I took up a job as a waiter."
Veloz didn't have insurance then, but he does now. And he wants other young people to do the same.
Brianna Brown is with the Texas Organizing Project, a grass-roots organization charged with getting people registered for health care.
"It's kind of like footloose and fancy free,” Brown said. “So I think we're going to need more education."
She said young adults have been difficult to persuade to sign up. So-called "young invincible" are key to making health care affordable.
"We need as many of them to enroll as possible to average out the risk pool,” Brown said, “and that's been a challenge across the nation."
According to the U.S. Health and Human Services, only about 27 percent of those who have signed up are aged 18 to 34 -- far less than the administration had projected it would need.
Recruiters are starting to show up on college campuses. The U.S. Health and Human Services Department is using social media to tweet and blog to peers. A commercial featuring basketball great LeBron James is specifically targeted at the young and healthy.
"I don't want to take that risk again,” Luis Veloz said. “Not with my education, not with my future. I lost a year of being in college because of health care, and that's a year I'm never getting back."
Veloz is enrolled now at El Centro Community College, trying to help his parents pay back $250,000 in medical bills.
News 8 reached out to SMU about the status of Luis Veloz’ full scholarship.
SMU Executive Director of News & Communications Kent Best responded with this statement: “SMU strives to help students in need of assistance. In this case, multiple attempts were made by University personnel to assist Mr. Veloz, and we remain willing to help him resolve this matter.”
Veloz pays $130 a month for health care he purchased at Healthcare.gov. The price, he said, is well worth the peace of mind.