Hospital offers health law info sessions

By BRYN STOLE, Staff Writer, Greenwood Commonwealth

With deadlines to sign up for health care coverage under the Affordable Care Act looming,  Greenwood Leflore Hospital is reaching out to help people understand their insurance options.

The hospital will host information sessions to help explain the enrollment process and the law’s requirements.

The sessions will be held from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. Friday and from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday in conference room 1C at the hospital.

Certified counselors on the hospital’s staff, as well as insurance representatives from Humana Healthcare, will be on hand to help individuals and families sign up for coverage and to answer questions.

The open enrollment period for insurance plans under the Affordable Care Act ends Monday, though an April 15 extension has been given to those who have started enrollment but have been unable to complete the process.

Uninsured working individuals who don’t obtain coverage before those deadlines may be subject to a penalty fee, although those who have life-changing events — such as a layoff, moving to a new state, marrying or having a baby — may enroll year-round.

Lora Evans, managed care director at the hospital, said working individuals and families with incomes above the federal poverty line can obtain insurance through the health care exchange, either in person or online at healthcare.gov.

Even for individuals with coverage, Evans said counselors and Humana representatives will be happy to help individuals look through their options and look for lower premiums or better coverage.

Federal subsidies are generally available for those whose incomes are between 100 percent and 250 percent of the federal poverty line. For single adults, that’s a minimum income of $11,500. Evans said that has helped make insurance coverage affordable for many who thought they might not be able to afford coverage.

“A lot of people are under the misconception that it’s going to be really expensive,” Evans said, but she said after subsidies, some individuals have been able to acquire coverage for as little as 21 cents per month.

She said others have found out they or their children qualify for existing government programs, such as Medicaid or the federal Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

Still, Evans said the state’s decision not to expand Medicaid means there’s a coverage gap for those who earn too much to qualify for the government insurance program and too little to qualify for subsidies for private insurance.

The hospital’s certified counselors are also available to assist with health enrollment questions and options during regular business hours through the new deadline of April 15. Call Evans at 459-7000 to ask questions or to set up an appointment.

Additional assistance is available through the Mississippi Navigator call center toll-free at 866-545-6842.