Still want to enroll? Hospital can help

By BRYN STOLE Staff Writer

Although open enrollment for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act ended Monday, many are still eligible to sign up for coverage.
Anyone who made a “good faith” effort to sign up for coverage but couldn’t complete the process by the midnight deadline may still be eligible to enroll.
Greenwood Leflore Hospital is ready to help anyone still trying to sign up on the federal health insurance exchange’s website,
Counselors from the hospital, insurance navigators and representatives from Humana Healthcare, an insurance company, will be at the hospital Thursday from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m., helping individuals sign up for coverage or just explaining how the law applies to them.
It’s the fifth information session the Greenwood hospital has hosted. Overall, said Lora Evans, managed care director at the hospital, “we had about 130 people actually show up to determine their eligibility and initiate enrollment.”
Final figures on how many qualified for the exchange and signed up for health insurance at the hospital’s sessions were not yet available.
President Obama announced Tuesday that, nationwide, more than 7.1 million people had signed up for coverage under the new law, beating initial government estimates.
Failure to carry insurance this year could result in penalties of $95 per adult or 1 percent of taxable income, whichever is greater. The penalties increase in subsequent years.
Even those who missed Monday’s deadline may not have to wait for the next open enrollment period, which begins in November, to sign up for coverage under the exchange.
Under the law, anyone who experiences a “qualifying life event” is also eligible to sign up for insurance coverage outside of the enrollment window, said Allison Faulkner, a hospital spokesperson.
Qualifying events include graduating or leaving college, getting married or divorced, having a baby, moving to a new state or losing current insurance coverage.
The hospital has 13 certified counselors throughout the hospital and its clinics trained to help those trying to determine their options.
The counselors are certified by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, a federal agency.
Gwen Neal, director of service excellence and one of the certified counselors at the hospital, said the training process involved about 20 hours of instruction and a stringent test.
“We have to know how to apply for health coverage, how to determine life changes, how to lower cost, insurance premiums, how much the deductible would be and what sorts of things are being covered under a plan,” Neal said.
Counselors are available during business hours at the hospital year-round.
For more information on the upcoming health-care information session, call the hospital at 459-7000.