CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Open enrollment for health insurance plans on the Affordable Care Act’s mandated insurance marketplace begins on Friday and health officials are wanting everyone to know the importance of enrolling.
Jessica Ice, the Executive Director of West Virginians for Affordable Health Care (WVAHC) and Jeremy Smith, the Program Director of WV Navigator sat down Tuesday with the media to discuss the proper ways to apply and the difficulties West Virginians face when signing up for plans under the act also known as Obamacare.
“A lot of people may not be versed in what is a deductible, what is a co-pay, making sure they are doctors are in-network for a plan,” Smith, who works for First Choice Services said.
“We want to make sure that everything they would need for healthcare that year, they would have with that plan they are looking at.”
WV Navigator is a grant-funded program that provides free health coverage enrollment assistance to uninsured West Virginians such as assisting planning, enrollment services, and financial help.
Ice said that a myth about health insurance is that plans under the ACA are not affordable. She said that 8 in 10 people in West Virginia will qualify for financial assistance.
“You can go to healthcare.gov, put in some information and they can tell you what sort of subsidies you can get to help with your premiums. Most West Virginians will actually pay less than 100 dollars a month for their health insurance,” Ice said.
West Virginia is currently apart of an 18-state lawsuit, Texas v. United States that challenges the constitutionality of ACA. Ice said while that lawsuit would put thousands of West Virginians out of health insurance, it should not scare people away from applying now.
Ruling on the lawsuit is expected by the end of the year.
“The Affordable Care Act is still the law of the land, healthcare.gov is still working, and you can still enroll in health insurance during this open enrollment period,” she said.
Around 160,000 West Virginians are covered just under the expansion of Medicaid in ACA.
The enrollment period ends on December 15, which was shortened by 45 days from previous years, according to WVAHC. Smith said doing so just makes sense for a healthier life.
“If they want to stay the healthiest that they can be in life, using their health insurance is extremely important,” he said. “You want to catch illnesses before they get out of hand. Using your health insurance has shown time and time again to make people healthier.”