Emily Rice Published

Free Guidance For West Virginia’s Uninsured On Jan. 9

A person fills out paperwork on a clipboard.iStock

On Jan. 9, organizations from around West Virginia will work together to create the first Cover WV Day to offer the uninsured a free and guided path to health insurance coverage.

More than 20 organizations are joining in this effort to offer free assistance to those who need coverage. The WV Primary Care Association, the WV Navigator Program, the WV Office of the Insurance Commissioner, and many other non-profit organizations and community health centers have joined to offer more than 30 locations across the state for this one-day event.

Each location will offer walk-in hours where anyone can get questions answered or receive free help enrolling in health insurance.

All locations will be staffed by certified assisters such as Health Insurance Navigators or Certified Application Counselors who provide free help with Medicaid, Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and Health Insurance Marketplace enrollments.

The Open Enrollment period for the Marketplace ends on Jan. 16.

According to Jeremy Smith, the program director for WV Navigator, about 6 percent of West Virginians lack health insurance.

“We’re actually a little bit better than the national average as far as our uninsured rate is concerned, but we still have a ways to go,” Smith said. “I mean, we definitely know that there are over 100,000 people in West Virginia that don’t have health coverage and we think that the majority of them would probably qualify for either the West Virginia Medicaid program, the CHIP program for kids, or the plans on what’s called the Health Insurance Marketplace.

Organizers aim to educate West Virginians about the different options available to those needing health coverage.

“I do see that mindset from people that especially if they’ve lost Medicaid or if they’ve lost the job that provided insurance, they think they just have to go without until they find a new job that offers it, but with the marketplace, that’s not the case,” Smith said. “The Health Insurance Marketplace is designed for people that can’t get Medicaid, they can’t get Medicare, or they can’t get insurance through a job.”

West Virginia Medicaid and the Health Insurance Marketplace provide options for most people without coverage. According to Smith, four in five people who get a plan on the Marketplace can qualify for plans starting at under $10 per month this year.

“Even if they’ve checked in past years, and maybe they thought it was unaffordable, they should come back and definitely check again this year, because with all the updates the plans are affordable, all doctors are in-network, medicines are covered,” Smith said. “It’s just a really good option for people.”

For more information or a list of site locations, please visit www.wvnavigator.com or www.wvpca.org or visit the Facebook page.

Smith said anyone who cannot make it to any of the locations for the event can call 304-356-5834 with any questions.