CHARLESTON, W.Va. — People who do not have health insurance can start enrolling for the coverage on Tuesday through West Virginia’s new insurance marketplace, created in the Affordable Care Act, along with the Medicaid expansion.
Medicaid is expanding to 138 percent of the poverty level which means an estimated 133,000 additional state residents will be eligible for the federal program, including individuals who make less than $15,800 annually.
In West Virginia, people without insurance who do not qualify for the expanded Medicaid program will have eleven individual health plans from Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield to choose from through the marketplace. Those private plans will be subsidized on a sliding scale based on income.
For information on the options, residents can call 1-800-318-2596, go online to www.healthcare.gov or attend community enrollment and education events. More than 800 local assisters have been trained throughout the Mountain State to help people weigh the options.
Joe Letnaunchyn, the president of the West Virginia Hospital Association, said enrollment assistance is also available at hospitals throughout the state.
“We’re ready to help people when they need to enroll, whether they’re coming in at an urgent time when they need care or if they just want to come into the hospitals and get information about enrollment, either into Medicaid or into the marketplace,” said Letnaunchyn.
“We won’t actually do the enrollment, we’ll give them options and help them navigate through the process.”
Every year, Letnaunchyn said West Virginia’s hospitals provide $800 million in uncompensated care. He said the provisions in the Affordable Care Act should help reduce that.
“It’ll keep the patients in the right place at the right time for the right level of care and it will help us with our financial sustainability and financial stability of our hospitals and also let patients know that they can get coverage when they need it,” he said on Monday’s MetroNews “Talkline.
The enrollment period that opens Tuesday continues through March.
Coverage will begin on Jan. 1 when people, by law, have to have health insurance or pay a penalty to the Internal Revenue Service.