WV Resident Insurance Assistance Hotline
West Virginians who need information and enrollment assistance through the Affordable Care Act have a new resource, the WV Navicare helpline. Started in November 2015 by First Choice Services, via a grant from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services, the service has bow taken over 750 calls.
Program director Stephanie Casto explained more.
“We assist people in getting enrolled in affordable healthcare plans through the Federal marketplace, which can be found at www.healthcare.gov. We can do enrollment in several different ways – we can do those over the phone, through our 800 number; we also take appointments, either in our Charleston office or at several regional offices that we have on a part-time basis; and then, we also, during open enrollment months, have enrollment events that we hold around the state. And we just answer any and all questions that they have about health insurance, help them determine what type of financial assistance, if any, that they qualify for, so we’re just here to answer all of their health insurance questions, and help them get the best plan.”
Ms. Casto talked about how a typical consultation works.
“It generally takes about 45 minutes, and the first thing that we do is request permission to discuss income information, and for the person to share contact information and other sensitive pieces of identifying information that they have to share with us. In order to process their full application, we do have to enter their Social Security number, birth date, those kinds of things. We just explain to them that we keep all of that information safe and confidential, and then gain their permission to move forward. We tell them a little bit about our role, and what our roles are not – we are not sales people, we don’t represent any insurance companies. So we explain all of that to the customer, and then if they want to move forward at that time then the first place that we start is discussing their income and figuring out what types of income must be counted, and then seeing what type of coverage that they are eligible for. In addition to the marketplace coverage, we are DHHR community partners, so we can also process Medicaid applications. Sometimes folks don’t realize that they are eligible for that coverage until they come and see us, and we don’t like to have to send them away, so if we calculate their income and they are Medicaid eligible, then we just go ahead and do that application. Once we have determined the income, and who’s in the household, then we enter all of that information into the appropriate site and if it’s a marketplace application, the consumer will receive, immediately, eligibility results, which determine what their premium assistance will be, each month, if any, and then we look at the plans that are available, and those costs, based on the level of financial assistance that the consumer is eligible for. We give them all the details about each plan. We don’t recommend a plan – we do answer questions about the details of each plan and what benefits are available, but we don’t make any recommendations. We’re not allowed to say “This would be the best plan for you, or don’t pick this plan” – we have to be totally unbiased.
The next open enrollment period begins November 1st – however, those who have had life changes, such as employment, location, marital or parental changes, are eligible for a special enrollment period. Ms Casto provided contact information for the program.
“Our toll free telephone number is 844-WV-CARES. You can also reach us through our website, which is www.wvnavicare.com.