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Enrollment for the Affordable Care Act down this year in West Virginia

Deadline to enroll for coverage is Dec. 15

Enrollment for the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) is down this year in West Virginia, but there’s still time to sign up for coverage.

From Nov. 1 through Dec. 2, just more than 10,000 West Virginians had signed up for coverage. Last year for roughly the same time period, Nov. 1 through Dec. 10, nearly 15,000 had enrolled.

“We’re the only state in the country that’s not seeing a huge increase in enrollment numbers compared to this time last year,” said Jeremy Smith, program director of WV NaviCare. “It’s just speculation on why. All we can guess is people are confused about the availability of plans on healthcare.gov.”

Smith said the decreased enrollment could be attributed to misinformation circulating, or residents could simply be waiting for auto-enrollment — something he doesn’t advise.

“Plans have changed substantially,” Smith said. “They’re not doing themselves any favors by not shopping and looking at other plans.”

He wants to emphasize that coverage through the ACA is still available, but the enrollment window is much shorter this year. Previously, folks could enroll for coverage through Jan. 31, but this year, the enrollment deadline is Dec. 15.

“It’s extremely important to sign up by the deadline,” Smith said.

He also emphasizes that financial assistance is still available for individuals to pay for their premiums, and to pay for their co-pays and deductibles.

“A lot of people were confused when President Trump mentioned he would stop paying cost-sharing to insurance companies. A lot of people took that to mean financial assistance or subsidies would go away, but they haven’t.”

Smith noted the penalty for not having health insurance is still in place, so those without insurance will have to pay $695 or 2.5 percent of their annual income, whichever number is greater.

“Another major problem I see that’s not being talked about is people are very confused about where to shop,” Smith said. “Healthcare.gov is the only legitimate place for Marketplace plans and to be eligible for subsidies.”

Anyone who needs enrollment assistance is asked to call 1-844-WV-CARES.

— Email: [email protected]; follow on Twitter @WendyHoldren

Read more at The Register-Herald of Beckley

 

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