Open Enrollment Assistance Through West Virginia Navicare
The open enrollment period for health insurance is rapidly approaching, and we spoke with Jeremy Smith, project director for West Virginia NaviCare to learn more about this year’s process.
“West Virginia NaviCare is a free grant-funded program just to help people sign up for their health insurance, whether it’s Medicaid, or CHIP or the Health Insurance Marketplace. The Health Insurance Marketplace is designed for anybody that needs health insurance that can’t get it through their job, or through Medicaid or Medicare or through the VA. These are private health insurance plans, and the way it works, is what you pay is based on your family size and your income. So that option is definitely still available for people. It was created under the Affordable Care Act, and there’s a couple different carriers in the state – there’s Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield, and then in select counties, there’s another carrier called CareSource.
“But one major change this year is that the open enrollment period is a lot less time this year. In past years, the open enrollment period was 12 weeks long, but for this year, anybody that needs a plan that will take effect in 2018, the open enrollment period is from November 1st to December 15th. So it’s only six weeks, and it’s really important to pay attention to that new open enrollment period.
“There’s no other major changes coming to the Marketplace in 2018. My main source of caution for folks is, that if you listen to all the hubbub that’s going on in Washington DC right now, you may not realize that the Affordable Care Act is even still in place, or if the Marketplace is available to folks. But the Affordable Care Act is still in place, those health insurance plans are still available to people, and also the penalty for not having health insurance is still in effect as well. If you go the entire year without having health insurance, and you go to file your taxes, you may face a penalty when you file. And that amount is $695 or 2 ½% of your annual income, whichever is greater. So all the rules from last year are still in place, the financial assistance is still in place – just the main difference this year is that shortened open enrollment period. So it’s really important to go ahead and get on it now, and look at the new plans and prices available this year, and go ahead and get you and your family signed up.”
He spoke more about the financial assistance.
“What makes the plans through the Marketplace more affordable for most folks is there are subsidies available, or the technical term is the advanced premium tax credit, and, for a lot of folks, it’s hard to understand how that works. But the amount of subsidy you can get every month to help you pay for your health insurance is based off of your family size and your income. So, if you can’t get insurance through Medicare or Medicaid or through your job, you can apply for this subsidy to help you pay for your health insurance, and in fact, last year 85% of West Virginians that got their insurance through the Marketplace qualified for these subsidies. So it’s a really important part of the Marketplace plan, but the only place you can get the subsidy is if you shop on www.healthcare.gov. If you go to any other website, you cannot get that premium tax credit, so it’s really important for folks to make sure that they’re shopping for Marketplace plans only on www.healthcare.gov, or of course, you can most definitely reach out to us, and we will help you through that entire process.
“If you have any questions at all, please reach out to our program, West Virginia NaviCare – we’re an absolutely free service, and our folks are pretty much experts at this point in navigating the www.healthcare.govsystem, and also letting you know the differences in the different plans, so that way you can get what is best for you and your families, and we really encourage people to go ahead and give us a call if they have any questions, or if they need help signing up for a plan, or just re-enrolling in a new plan for this year.
“Our main number 1-304-356-5834, or you can get us toll free at 1-844-WVCARES.”