WV Navicare Provides Assistance For Health Insurance
Open enrollment for the Affordable Care Act began November 1st, and West Virginia residents who have questions or need assistance have a resource available. We spoke with Jeremy Smith, a health insurance navigator, for more information.
“I work with a non-profit project – we got a Federal grant to help people sign up for health insurance. Our project name is West Virginia Navicare, and it’s just a non-profit project to help people sign up for health insurance and help answer their questions.
“You need to sign up for health insurance through the Health Insurance Marketplace. The open enrollment period is November 1st through January 31st. So, this is the time that people need to sign up for it if they want health insurance for 2017. And then, also, anybody that’s already enrolled in health insurance through the marketplace, this is the key time to look at the new plans and prices. Anybody that already has a plan, they need to re-sign up by December 15th, so their new plan will take effect January 1st, and another key thing to remember is, a lot of the plans are going to be changing a little bit this year. We have a couple different carriers and twenty-some different plans to pick from, but a lot of the plans are going to be changing, the networks are changing a little bit, the deductibles are going to be changing a little bit, so it’s really important to look at all the details of the plans.”
He spoke about how assistance can be received, and information callers should have ready in advance.
“We’re available over the phone – all they have to do is just call our number at 1-844-WVCARES, and one of our health insurance navigators will be able to answer any questions you might have, or actually help get you signed up, right over the phone.”
“The number one piece of information that people need to know is what their expected income is. There’s a couple different ways to get health insurance available to West Virginians, and one is through the expanded Medicaid program, and the other is through the new Health Insurance Marketplace. The plans through the marketplace, the price that you pay is based off of your income and your family size, so you really need to know what your expected 2017 is, and then that helps us to determine how much a plan will cost you and your family.”
Mr. Smith spoke about the increase in prices this period.
“Nationally, the prices are going up. The key thing to remember though, is what makes these plans affordable for most people is you can get a monthly subsidy to help you pay for the plan you pick, and even if the prices do go up, those that receive subsidies should just get more subsidies to help offset those increases. About 86% of West Virginians qualify for subsidies through the marketplace, so if you’re getting subsidies, even if the plans increase in general, you should be able to get more subsidies to help offset those increases.”
He ended the interview with two words of caution for listeners.
“If somebody doesn’t have health insurance this year, they may have to face a penalty when they file their taxes. And for this tax filing season, the penalty for not having health insurance is $695, or 2.5% of your annual income, whichever is greater, so it’s really important that everybody have some kind of health insurance, whether it’s through their job, through Medicare, through Medicaid, the VA or through the new health insurance marketplace.
“It’s really important that people be careful where they shop for their health insurance. There’s a lot of fake websites out there – if you do a simple Google search, there might be 30 other websites that come up, and if you put your information into one of those websites, they often give your information to telemarketers that sell plans that don’t even meet the new minimum requirements. So you’re not getting real health insurance, and it really can be a problem. If anybody wants to shop online, they need to make sure they go to www.healthcare.gov – that’s the only place where you can get the new subsidies. Any other site, you may run a risk of your information being passed on to telemarketers.”