UPDATE: Local Agencies Help With Health Care Enrollment

By: WSAZ News Staff Email
By: WSAZ News Staff Email

UPDATE 10/1/13 @ 5:30 p.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Right now, there are only a few ways you can sign up for the new Medicaid and health insurance marketplace options. However, there are many organizations working together to help make the process easier for you.

For Michael Reinhardt, the past five years without health insurance have been rough. "I've been in hospitals," he told WSAZ.com. "They won't accept you. They'll bill it straight to you and then the next thing you know you find out it's a five or six thousand dollar bill just for staying a few hours."

Signing up for the new insurance on the first day of enrollment was something he didn't think twice about. "I said I'll be your first candidate, I figured because, you know, I've got some health problems wrong with me, so I figured why not."

Thousands of West Virginians are expected to enroll.

"It's an overwhelming response on day one to get people health insurance. One hundred seventy thousand newly insured West Virginians. It is a new day. It is a new era and one in which we are going to make a significant step to providing quality affordable healthcare," said Perry Brant, executive director of West Virginians for Affordable Health Care. It's one group working to make the health care enrollment process go smoothly.

Other local organizations can help you enroll online. The Covenant House in Charleston has been granted as a community "assistor".

"People with enough knowledge to say, 'yes we can enroll you in Medicaid because we know you fit within the income guidelines and it's a pretty simple process,' " explains Covenant House executive Director, Ellen Allen.

It's a process that's worth it to many West Virginians. For some, it's even a situation of life and death. Dr. Dan Foster, a local physician, says, "approximately eighteen to twenty thousand Americans die every year simply because they don't have health insurance. That's about four West Virginians every week."

UPDATE 10/1/13 @ 11 a.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ & AP) -- At least two of the four places in West Virginia to sign up for affordable health care won't be up and running for several more weeks.

The health insurance market under the federal Affordable Care Act was launched on October 1.

Four navigators were hired to work in West Virginia hospitals, but at least two of them won't be ready for several more weeks. The navigators will help people sign up for the affordable healthcare.

Paige Johnson, a spokesperson with Thomas Memorial Hospital and St. Francis Hospital tells WSAZ.com neither hospital will have its navigators for several more weeks.

Johnson says the information is still coming in about the program, but a person can sign up without a navigator. The navigator just helps people who run into difficulties signing up.

Benefits begin Jan. 1, and the Obama administration predicts six in 10 people will be able to find at least some level of coverage for $100 or less per month, after tax credits.

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) -- West Virginia is ready to launch a health insurance market under the federal Affordable Care Act, but an official overseeing it says enrolling people will be a challenge.

Jeremiah Samples of the Department of Health and Human Resources says that's because the federal government has failed to adequately explain what's happening.

Private and nonprofit organizations are ramping up outreach efforts, and Samples said that should help increase awareness.

West Virginians who have no health insurance can sign up for coverage under a state and federal partnership called a health care exchange. Open enrollment starts Tuesday.

Benefits begin Jan. 1, and the Obama administration predicts six in 10 people will be able to find at least some level of coverage for $100 or less per month, after tax credits.

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