Marketplace health insurance navigators offer free ACA enrollment event ahead of deadline for 2022 coverage
Carteret County News-Times, The (Morehead City, NC)
MOREHEAD CITY — Ahead of an approaching deadline to enroll for 2022 health insurance coverage through the Affordable Care Act, Get Covered Carteret and Legal Aid of North Carolina are hosting a free event at Carteret Community College Thursday for residents to explore their coverage options and get signed up.
The open enrollment deadline is Wednesday, Dec. 15 to sign up for 2022 coverage that begins Saturday, Jan. 1. The overall open enrollment period ends Saturday, Jan. 15, with coverage starting Tuesday, Feb. 1 for anybody who signs up after Dec. 15.
To assist Carteret Countians exploring plans on the ACA Marketplace, certified navigators will hold an enrollment event Thursday from 4 to 8 p.m. in the McGee Building computer lab, Room 205, on the campus of CCC in Morehead City. The navigators can determine if residents are eligible for coverage, help them search for the best plan to fit their needs and guide them through the application process of enrolling or reenrolling for coverage.
To secure an appointment in advance of the event, contact Barb Thomas at 252-422-1354 or Helene Kelly at 252-269-0775. To reserve a place, call the toll-free N.C. Navigator Consortium line at 1-855-733-3711 or visit ncnavigator.net. Enrollment appointments take about an hour to an hour-and-a-half and walk-ins will also be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis.
"We're allowing walk-ins at the event, but if we are fully booked, we'll talk with them, make contact and schedule an appointment for some future date if they walk in and we can't sit with them for the full hour," said Ms. Thomas, a federally trained and certified health insurance navigator who has helped hundreds of locals get enrolled in health coverage since the ACA was introduced in 2014. "We won't necessarily be able to enroll them that night but they can find out if they're eligible and get the process started."
Ms. Thomas is also available for appointments over the phone or virtually by Zoom.
The ACA provides health insurance to people who would otherwise not be covered through their job or a government program, such as Medicare or Medicaid. In contrast to Medicare and Medicaid, ACA plans are offered by private insurance companies and provide an option for people who, for example, are self-employed or would be underinsured through their work plan.
Ms. Thomas encourages those who already have insurance through the ACA Marketplace to revisit their plan and see if there are any changes to coverage this year. She said there are now three health insurance companies offering plans in Carteret County, compared to only one provider previously, giving people more options than in years past to compare and shop plans.
"Insurers have to decide which counties they're going to offer plans in, and for many years Blue Cross Blue Shield was the only one that offered plans in the smaller, rural counties like ours," Ms. Thomas said. "It's only been the last two years that we've had other options, last year Cigna came in and this year Aetna came in."
Plans are offered at several different levels, with varying costs and scope of coverage at each level. Based on household income estimates, many people who enroll for coverage through the ACA are also eligible for federal subsidies to help lower costs on out-of-pocket expenses, such as deductibles and monthly premiums.
"The key really is the subsidies," Lela Faye Rich, another certified navigator, said.
Thanks to a provision in the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, federal subsidies are now available to people who make 400% or more of the federal poverty level, which is $12,800 for a single-person household. The ARP also lowered premiums for 2022, among other changes.
For the 2021 coverage year, 5,609 people in Carteret County were enrolled in health insurance through the ACA, with a majority – 94% – receiving some sort of premium tax credit. After tax credits, the average monthly premium for Carteret County participants was $98, and 53% of enrollees also received additional cost sharing reduction to help further lower out-of-pocket expenses.
Those looking to sign up for a health plan are asked to bring the following items to the enrollment event:
Social Security Number and immigration documentation, if applicable.Income information, including employer name and phone number, for every member of the applying tax household who is working or has income, including SSN, that will enable projection of 2022 household income.If an employer offers you or a family member insurance, call 252-422-1354 for a form you will need to get completed by your employer.Marketplace username and password if you already have an account.Either the password to your email account or a device on which you can access your email for account creation.
All information shared during the enrollment event is kept strictly confidential.
For more information on the upcoming enrollment event, call Ms. Thomas 252-422-1354 or visit ncnavigator.net. More information about the ACA Marketplace, including application forms can be found at healthcare.gov.
Contact Elise Clouser at [email protected]; by phone at 252-726-7081 ext. 229; or follow on Twitter @eliseccnt.