June Leffler Published

Open Enrollment for Affordable Care Act Plans Starts Soon for Those Who Are Uninsured

Mental health care advocates say patients face challenges in insurance coverage.

Uninsured Americans can once again buy into federally subsidized health insurance.

In a first step to bolster the federal Affordable Care Act, President Joe Biden ordered the reopening of the federal health insurance exchange for three months, starting in February.

More than 19,000 West Virginians signed up in November and December, but plenty of people remain uninsured, said Jeremy Smith, the project manager for WV Navigator. The federally funded non-profit helps people understand their health insurance options, private or public.

“We know that there’s also a lot of people that are still uninsured, that may not know about this option. So we’re excited they’re going to have this new opportunity to sign up,” Smith said.

As of 2019, 6.5 percent of West Virginians did not have health insurance, according to the state’s insurance commissioner. That number could be higher now due to COVID-19. Job loss often means a loss in health coverage, and thousands of West Virginians became unemployed in the first few months of the pandemic.

“A lot of people I’ve talked to have the idea that they’ll just go without until they get their next job offer comes. And I really encourage everybody to look at other options,” Smith said.

Smith and his colleagues are already taking appointments ahead of the federal exchange’s open enrollment date of Feb.15.