Many uninsured area residents now have access to affordable coverage through the new health insurance marketplaces created by the federal Affordable Care Act. The marketplaces are a one-stop shop to help individuals and small employers shop for, select and enroll in qualified health plans.
Marketplaces will also assist eligible individuals in receiving premium tax credits and cost-sharing reductions and help individuals enroll in other federal and state health care programs, such as Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
To assist with enrollment, the federal Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has funded North Carolina agencies through its Health Insurance Navigator funding opportunity. Council on Aging of Buncombe County and Pisgah Legal Services were grant recipients as part of the 10-agency consortium, the N.C. Community Care Network.
Collaborating with other area agencies, both organizations will soon begin offering free, unbiased enrollment assistance to uninsured residents across western North Carolina. They will also provide additional assistance to consumers who are disabled, do not speak English or are unfamiliar with health insurance. Open enrollment under the Affordable Care Act began October 1, 2013, and runs through March 31, 2014.
Uninsured individuals seeking assistance to understand their health insurance options and enroll in an insurance plan through the new marketplace can call toll-free: 1-855-733-3711 to make an appointment with a navigator. All appointments will be made through this statewide toll-free number, rather than by contacting Pisgah Legal or Council on Aging. More information is available at www.pisgahlegal.org and www.coabc.org.
Organizations and groups in western North Carolina can contact Pisgah Legal Services or Council on Aging of Buncombe County to request a presentation about the Affordable Care Act and the new Marketplaces or to schedule a clinic at your organization. Contact Pisgah Legal Services at (828) 253-0406 or Council On Aging at (828) 277-8288.