Open enrollment approaches for health insurance through Affordable Care Act
Logan Banner, The (WV)
HUNTINGTON — Ahead of this year's Affordable Care Act open enrollment period in West Virginia, resources and deadlines that consumers should know were discussed by a representative from First Choice Services' West Virginia Navigator.
"West Virginia Navigator is a free, nonprofit program that offers enrollment assistance to any West Virginia resident that's looking for health insurance," said Navigator program director Jeremy Smith. "The program provides free assistance to people finding and selecting health care options through Affordable Care Act (ACA) Marketplace, Medicaid and CHIP."
Smith spoke Tuesday morning at a press briefing at the St. Mary's Conference Center in Huntington, which was hosted by Mountain Health Network. He said this year's open enrollment period is Nov. 1 to Jan. 15, 2023.
Smith says consumers who come back to the Health Insurance Marketplace this year can expect to see some important updates and expansions.
"New rules will expand eligibility to those that had previously been blocked from getting the coverage because they had an offer of insurance through an employer," he said. "This fix to the 'family glitch' will expand eligibility to thousands of families."
Since the law was enacted more than a decade ago, people who have access to health insurance plans through their employers are supposed to get price breaks on the Affordable Care Act marketplace if they pay more than 9.5% of their income toward monthly premiums. But for years, the Internal Revenue Service arrived at that calculation based on the cost of a work-sponsored health insurance plan for a single individual, instead of a more expensive family plan. That meant many families didn't qualify for the tax breaks offered through the ACA, popularly known as "Obamacare," according to The Associated Press.
"Additionally, the signing of the Inflation Reduction Act secured enhanced subsidies and locked in lower prices for Marketplace plans for three more years. It also kept in place that higher income earners can continue to enroll in subsidized coverage as well," Smith said. "Many individuals who purchase coverage through the Marketplace will also qualify for advanced premium tax credits, which will subsidize the cost of their monthly health care premiums, or may be eligible for other programs to help lower health care costs."
Smith said it's important West Virginians pay attention and act quickly to enroll by the deadline.
"People who already have a plan and need to re-enroll are encouraged to double-check the network and prescription drug coverage for any changes, and to update their information in case they qualify for any additional cost savings," he said.
Kathy Cosco, director of strategic marketing for Mountain Health Network, said to ensure the community learns about these new opportunities and secure free enrollment assistance, Mountain Health Network, in partnership with the West Virginia Navigator program, will host an open enrollment event on the first day of open enrollment from noon to 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 1, at Huntington Internal Medicine Group in the 5000 block of U.S. 60 East.
"We want patients to have reliable and accurate information about insurance availability," Cosco said. "Studies show that uninsured adults tend to postpone or forgo health care at all. This is an access issue. We want to help the Navigator provide this information to the community so they make the best decisions for their families. We will also be offering free flu shots."
Cosco added Marshall Health will also have some health information available at the enrollment event.
Free in-person help is available by calling 304-356-5834 or visiting www.ACANavigator.com. West Virginia residents can also compare plans and apply for health insurance at www.healthcare.gov.