The annual open enrollment period for health coverage under the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, began on November 1stand continues through December 15th. This is a great time for folks who don’t get insurance through a job, Medicare or Medicaid to shop for health coverage at www.healthcare.gov.
The Affordable Care Act and the Medicaid expansion have been a boon to West Virginia’s economy and the health of its residents. Our state saw the second largest drop in the uninsured rate in the country when the health care law was implemented, with over 200,000 West Virginians gaining access to health coverage. A 2017 WVCBP report found that the health care industry accounts for over 10 percent of the state’s Gross Domestic Product and has grown five times faster than the rest of the economy since 2014.
Unfortunately, those historic gains are being threatened by actions being taken at the federal level. The removal of the individual mandate in the 2017 tax law, an increase in access to short-term plans that don’t follow the ACA’s pre-existing condition coverage requirements, and the slashing of outreach and enrollment funding may all have contributed to the increase in the uninsured rate in our state from 2016 to 2017.
Making sure people have access to quality, affordable health care builds stronger, healthier communities and increases financial stability. Policymakers at the state and federal levels must increase access to quality health care and stabilize the health care Marketplaces. This also means keeping barriers from being erected that would block access to health insurance, such as work requirements and drug testing for Medicaid or by slashing protections people with pre-existing conditions.
If you are currently covered by ACA Marketplace coverage or if you are uninsured, in-person help to sign up for 2019 coverage is available. In-person assisters, also known as Navigators, know the ins and outs of the plans available and can help make sure you choose a plan that fits your needs. Most folks who shop at healthcare.gov are eligible for financial help that reduces the cost of monthly premiums as well as deductibles and out-of-pocket costs. A list of local assistance is available here.
We have a great newsletter, join below: