By Wendy Holdren
West Virginians for Affordable Health Care is encouraging state residents to take another look at the Affordable Care Act because, they say, “It may be more affordable than you think.”
Southern Regional coordinator Doris Selko said the ACA has reduced the number of uninsured West Virginians by one-third, and many people are finding the coverage very affordable.
Selko recently helped enroll two widows in two separate counties. She said they were both living on limited incomes, but were just above the income levels to qualify for the Medicaid expansion.
Both women were able to enroll, with $500 deductibles and $1,500 maximum out-of-pocket expenses, all for under $25 per month.
“It was great. It was cheaper than they thought they could get insurance. One of the widows had major health problems and she was able to get medical care right away that she desperately needed.”
Even if someone isn’t in poor health, or doesn’t need medical attention right away, Selko said having health insurance can provide you with something invaluable — peace of mind.
“A short-term study done in Oregon showed that Medicaid didn’t reduce diabetes or obesity, but it did reduce anxiety.”
Selko said having insurance will take away the fear of losing everything because of an unexpected illness.
People who already have insurance may also want to take a look at Marketplace options, Selko said, as she knows several families who were paying over $800 each month, who now pay less than $150 because of their newly selected plan.
“It’s not affordable for everybody, with bills and living expenses, but just look and see what you think. It may be more affordable than you thought.”
March 31 is the final day to enroll for health care coverage, and anyone who enrolls after March 15 will not be insured until May 1.
Selko said multiple agencies are still assisting with enrollments, including the Department of Health and Human Resources, Raleigh County Community Action Association and hospital navigators.
On Saturday, enrollments will be hosted at the Erma Byrd Higher Education Center in Beaver from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. A forum by “Our Children Our Future” will be held in the auditorium during this time, and enrollments will be done in the hallway.
Another enrollment will be held Feb. 22, in Summers County at the ARH Hospital clinic from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Representatives at Volunteer Income Tax Assistance locations can also help with enrollment. A rep will be available at the Kopperston Mountain Heart location on Mondays, and at the White Sulphur Springs Public Library Saturday, and again on March 1 and 14. Enrollment help will also be offered at Beckley ARH on March 11 and Summers ARH on March 13.
“Just like the governor of Kentucky said, ‘You may not like Obama, you may not like me, but you may like what you find’ about the ACA and its affordability,” Selko said.
“I’ve seen such positive numbers in the people I’ve enrolled. You never know what your health could be, so it couldn’t hurt to look.”
She said at most, for most people, it takes 45 minutes to enroll — “Who doesn’t have 45 minutes for something so important?”
Because of the Medicaid Expansion, thousands of southern West Virginians are now covered: nearly 4,000 in Raleigh County, nearly 1,400 in Wyoming County, over 1,700 in Nicholas County, nearly 800 in Summers County and over 2,400 in Fayette County.
For more information, visit www.healthcare.gov/marketplace or call 1-800-318-2596.
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