May 29—Crawford County residents and other Pennsylvanians in need of health insurance now have until mid-August to enroll for government subsidized health insurance.
The Pennsylvania Health Insurance Exchange Authority — or Pennie — is the state's health insurance marketplace.
It acts as a liaison between insurance companies and those seeking health insurance.
It helps accessibility and affordability of individual health coverage for individuals and families by connecting them with coverage providers, Scott Yeager, Pennie's outreach manager, said. It helps individuals and families find the best fit for coverage and the lowest possible price for that coverage without bias, he said.
Due to COVID-19, Pennie has extended its enrollment period until Aug. 15 for those who are uninsured or do not have health insurance through their employer.
The passage of the federal American Rescue Plan in March has made health insurance even more affordable, Yeager said.
Under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, more Pennsylvanians are newly eligible for financial assistance or may see an increase in the amount of financial assistance, like advance premium tax credits for which they are eligible, Yeager said. They also may qualify for financial assistance.
People who couldn't afford their health insurance due to being more than 400 percent above the poverty level, now are receiving much lower premiums, he said. Premiums are being offered at 8.5 percent of a person or family's income.
Anyone who is unemployed will qualify for free health insurance for 2021 along with their families, Yeager said.
Those who have existing plans will be receiving a much lower premium for 2021 and 2022 while new enrollees will be able to find greatly reduced premiums.
Pennie found there are 6,900 uninsured in Crawford County, which is about 8.2 percent of the county's total population of 84,629, Yeager said.
Of the uninsured, more of them are 26 to 34 years of age and more female than male, he said. More of them have been employed full-time in the past 12 months with more of them in the annual income range of $25,000 to $9,000,
"If COVID-19 taught us anything, it's not to be unprotected," Yeager said in a recent stop in Meadville promoting Pennie.
During the initial open enrollment period which ran from Nov. 1, 2020, through Jan. 15 of this year, 1,787 people in Crawford County enrolled for insurance through Pennie. Another 291 county residents have enrolled since enrollment reopened Feb. 15 — getting a total of 2,078 enrolled in insurance by mid May.
Meadville Medical Center is an assister organization with the Pennie program. Lisa Cox serves as the local outreach and insurance enrollment coordinator. The medical center has assisted 480 persons enroll for insurance through Pennie through mid-May.
Keith Gushard can be reached at (814) 724-6370 or by email at [email protected].
For more information on enrolling in subsidized health insurance through the Pennsylvania Health Insurance Exchange Authority, or Pennie, call toll-free at (844) 844-8040 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Help also is available by contacting Lisa Cox, a Pennie-certified outreach and enrollment coordinator, at Meadville Medical Center at (814) 333-1758.
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