Highland Medical Center Offers Insurance Assistance

There’s no question that health insurance has become a political football in recent years, with politicians on both sides of the aisle either praising or criticizing the Affordable Care Act. Like it or not, it is currently the law of the land, and the troubled rollout of the government’s Health Marketplace website confused and frustrated many. The Highland Medical Center now has a full time staff able to help patients their options. Susanna Baxter is the In House Assistor for the Health Insurance Marketplace.

“Basically, I help folks to navigate the Health Insurance Marketplace, and help them find an insurance if they qualify. This past year, when we had the open enrollment, luckily we did not have issues with the Marketplace whatsoever, so I think they worked out the problems, and hopefully it stays that way.”

Ms. Baxter talked about the process of setting up an account.

“First of all, we have to make an account, and that requires an e-mail address. If somebody does not have an e-mail address, I open them an e-mail address, just for that reason. And then we log into this health insurance account, then we have to put in all their personal information – income information, how many people live in their household, where do they live, social security numbers, their ethnicity, their race and so forth. That usually takes us half an hour. And after the application, the Marketplace determines if they qualify for any health insurance, and any subsidy by the government.”

While the open enrollment period has ended for this year, there are options available for those who face extenuating circumstances.

“People still have a chance to sign up for health insurance, outside of open enrollment – they just have to have a “life changing event.” Some of those life events are: if somebody lost their health insurance because they lost their job; if they lost their health insurance because their spouse died; also, if their family size changed, so if they had a baby; if they had a change in income; and also if folks moved from a different area. They have 60 days after that life changing event happened to sign up for insurance, or get on the Marketplace and look at their options.”

Open enrollment will begin again this fall, and she urged citizens to contact her for more assistance. She noted many in our region would qualify for government assistance with their plans based on income.

To contact Ms. Baxter for an appointment, call the Medical Center’s main line at 540-468-6400 or her direct line at 540-468-6427.

“The next open enrollment period will start November 1st, 2015, and it will go through January 31st, 2016. It’s really just a place where you can see different kinds of health insurance providers, and different kinds of insurances. It’s not a place where you have to choose an insurance and sign up. To see your options, it doesn’t cost anything to you, and at least you make a knowledgable decision, either opt out or opt in.”

Story By

Scott Smith

Scott Smith is the General Manager for Allegheny Mountain Radio and Station Coordinator and News Reporter for WVLS. Scott’s family has deep roots in Highland County. While he did not grow up here, he spent as much time as possible on the family farm, and eventually moved to Highland to continue the tradition, which he still pursues with his cousin. Unfortunately, farming doesn’t pay all the bills, so he has previously taken other jobs to support his farming hobby, including pressman/writer for The Recorder, and Ag Projects Coordinator for The Highland Center. He lives in Hightown with wife Michelle and son Ethan. In his spare time, he wishes he had more spare time, especially to ride his prized Harley-Davidson motorcycle. scott@amrmail.org

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