Affordable Care Act at System 47K in state
10/07/2013 - The Dominion Post. By Conor Griffith.
MORGANTOWN - To enroll for Affordable Care Act (ACA) health insurance coverage, go to healthcare.gov; call 800-318-2596; or visit a state Department of Health and Human Resources office or community health center. Enrollment runs through March 31. To be covered by the ACA target date of Jan. 1, residents should enroll by Dec. 15.
Tuesday marked the opening day for enrollment in expanded Medicaid coverage and the health insurance marketplace under the Affordable Care Act.
Jeremiah Samples, assistant secretary for the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR), said more than 47,000 West Virginians were automatically enrolled based on information submitted before ACA went into effect. The official number of new enrollments will be released soon.
Besides those who were auto-enrolled, response to the ACA “hasn’t been overwhelming yet,” said Laura Jones, executive director of Milan Puskar Health Right, in Morgantown. “We anticipate most of our patients will enroll, but it’s a huge, monumental task to change the American health insurance industry.”
Jones said one of the biggest obstacles to enrollment is a lack of information. The federal government’s health care website experienced many glitches because so many people tried to access it at the same time. Samples suggested West Virginians visit the state eligibility pool at wvin roads.org since it has fewer users and should have fewer errors.
While a shortage of primary care providers has been a national concern, Morgantown has some advantages being a large municipality, Jones said. West Virginia also has a large network of Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC) that provide care and ACA eligibility information.
“Overall, it’s a mixed bag,” Samples said. “Peo - ple also need to be careful because there are scams involving groups claiming to be affiliated with ACA.”
Samples urges people not to give any financial information to anyone trying to collect.
There are also exceptions to a $95 tax penalty on individuals who opt not to purchase insurance; that goes into effect after March. People with religious exemptions or whose income is too low to pay income taxes will not be penalized if they cannot acquire insurance in time.
Samples said there will be help at every DHHR office so people can figure out which plan works best.