CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The open enrollment period for health insurance in 2015 begins on Saturday through West Virginia’s health insurance exchange — the federally-subsidized marketplace for those who do not have other insurance options.

Last year, roughly 20,000 West Virginians enrolled for coverage during a bumpy national roll-out of the marketplaces that were created in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

“(It was) Not as robust as we would have liked,” said Perry Bryant, executive director of West Virginians for Affordable Health Care, of those initial enrollment numbers.

In the past year, Bryant said, healthcare.gov has been much improved. This year, browsing plans based on a zip code and income without fully registering on the site is an option.

“(Last year) It was very difficult to set up an account and you had to put in all kinds of information. This is a much easier way to see what options are available to people,” said Bryant on Wednesday’s MetroNews “Talkline.”

“A lot of people are pleasantly surprised by the amount of subsidies that are available to them. Some people find, even with the subsidies, that the premiums and deductibles are unaffordable, but people ought to be informed and make a wise decision.”

In addition to new enrollments — from Nov. 15-Feb. 15 — existing plans can be renewed or changed. In order for coverage to take effect on Jan. 1, though, enrollments must be completed by Dec. 15.

The penalties for not having insurance will go up in the New Year.

For the 2014 coverage year, those without health insurance will pay one percent of their yearly income or $95 per person ($47.50 per child under 18) when filing their 2014 federal tax returns.

For 2015, those without insurance will pay the higher of these two amounts: two percent of yearly household income or $325 per person ($162.50 per child under 18) with the maximum penalty per family being $975.

The fee will continue to rise in subsequent years.

“A lot of people are going to look at those penalties and they’re going to say, ‘It’s better for me to be insured and have a policy,'” Bryant said.

For a second year, those looking for health insurance on West Virginia’s exchange will again only see plans from Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield.

Kentucky Health Cooperative, a Kentucky-based nonprofit insurance company, had been approved to join West Virginia’s marketplace, but — in a decision announced last week — delayed that move until next year citing infrastructure support issues.

“We were disappointed, not only that they were going to be the only other carrier in the marketplace, but then they withdrew at the last minute,” Bryant said. “Part of the premise of the marketplace is that competition will hold down premiums and deductibles.”

Dozens of companies are offering healthcare plans in exchanges in other parts of the country.

Enrollment information can be accessed online through healthcare.gov or by calling 1-800-318-2596. In-person enrollment assistance is also available at sites throughout West Virginia like senior centers, physician offices and other healthcare locations.

There is no enrollment period for those who qualify for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Those programs are available year-round.

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Comments

  • Jim from Poca

    I have had to listen to this man push the ACA down our throats at several meetings across the state. Shut up Mr. Bryant. I am sick of you defending this bad law. Of course people who get free insurance is going to love this law. We working folks have to pay for ours and theirs are starting to hate this liberal policy.

    • fed up

      Agree, and I get so upset when someone brags about how there are so many more Medicaid enrollments. Why is that a good thing? Should these people not have jobs and be working? It seems that the working middle class got stiffed in this deal.

      • ViennaGuy

        Exactly right.

  • Voter

    I am so glad to be paying for WVACA. Every year my policy premiums, deductibles, co-pays and out of pocket skyrocket. Again I want to thank all of the leeches and non-working 20 somethings. I hope they kill this pos piece of legislation.

  • Jeremy Engdahl-Johnson

    What implications exist for policyholders and insurance companies concerning the ACA proposed reenrollment process? Find out here: http://www.healthcaretownhall.com/?p=7512#sthash.j4l8ojFk.dpbs

    • Jephre

      Implications for policyholders?
      - Higher premiums
      - Higher deductibles that must be met in full before the provider pays anything
      - Fewer doctors that will accept Medicaid patients
      - Fewer doctors accepting any new patients
      - Higher taxes for everyone
      - Being forced to buy unwanted and unneeded coverage (example - maternity for a 60 year old man)
      - Etc, etc.

  • Simon

    I thought Mylan sold affordable generic medicines. Isn't there a Manchin connection there ? Daughter=CEO?!

  • please

    I give perry Bryant credit. He's sailing this sinking ship as far as it will go. As a physician who has seen deductibles increase 100% or more for my patients I laugh at him. Guess what happens when your deductibles, premiums, and copays skyrocket? You don't go to the physician for care you stay at home and make your insurance companies billions and the ceos millions. What a joke! Don't even get me started about the increased prescription prices. Good lord what happened to generic drugs?? Costs thru the roof!!

  • WVACAInsured

    The ACA has been a god-send for me. As a retiree living on about $20K income, my former employer's plan would charge me more than $800 per month premium. The ACA affords me to have a comparable plan for less than half that amount. Scream and complain all you want about the ACA, but it allows me to have a decent quality of life when it comes my health.

    • The bookman

      Early retirement is a luxury that takes planning, and is not a right that should be subsidized. I'm glad you have determined that the ACA is your ticket, but maybe prior to retiring you should have considered your health care costs. At the end of the day, someone has to pay the subsidy. Who should that be?

  • Moutain Navy

    Hold on a second I thought if states had their own exchange they had their own web site.

  • Moutain Navy

    I am so glad I am immune to Obamacare. But I feel for those that have to buy this POS.

  • David

    If you can't afford the premiums and deductibles of our plans were forcing you to buy you can opt out but then well fine you and keep fining you until the fine is more than the premiums and deductibles you still can't afford to buy?

    And the progressive democrats don't understand why they just got voted out of office?

  • ViennaGuy

    Get ready for sticker shock.

  • Kelly

    While we are arbor, let 'a transition all state employees and teachers from pensions to a 401(k) program for retirement saving. I t will save taxpayers millions and allow for retirement revenue for retirees.

    • Dan the man

      What happens to retirement if the stock market crumbles????

      • Kelly

        Diversify!

        Now to answer your question as it exists now, when the market declines, state employee and teachers are made whole in their pension balances by raiding tax dollars meant for programs for all private and public residents and putting it in to guarantee your 8 percent annual return. What a racket on the backs of privately employed residents.

        That is the dirty little secret that is never discussed.

      • ViennaGuy

        Who said a 401(k) plan has to be 100% in stocks?

      • the flying dutchman

        the reverse of what happens if the market goes up....like it has for 5 years...welcome to the world that most employees live in...the days of the fixed pension plan are ending.