West Virginians broke records in Affordable Care Act (ACA) enrollment numbers during the ACA’s 10th open enrollment period. The state saw an increase of nearly 23 percent, the sixth highest increase in the nation.
West Virginia’s First Choice Services was awarded $1,050,000 last year to continue and expand the West Virginia Navigator program, which provides free assistance to people finding and selecting healthcare options through the Marketplace, Medicaid and CHIP.
Jeremy Smith, West Virginia Navigator program director, said a person is more likely to follow through with ACA enrollment when they work with a navigator.
“It’s really different for every family, and that’s why it can be so confusing, because we can’t just send out blanket information or this is the best way to do it,” Smith said. “We block off at least one hour appointments for each person, so that we can go through everything with a fine tooth comb, and make sure that they understand the options, and then help them make an informed decision of what’s going to be best for them.”
Nationwide, more than 16.3 million people signed up for an ACA Marketplace Health Plan during open enrollment. Smith said he believes this increase shows how education of the public’s options for their health care can make a difference.
“These are a lot of middle class working individuals that 10 years ago couldn’t have gotten health insurance, and now because of the Affordable Care Act, they can shop on a marketplace plan, and the government helps pay for whichever plan they pick out,” Smith said. “We’ve been working like crazy the last year and a half to get out in the community, and do outreach efforts to make sure people know about this option.”
West Virginia Navigator encourages anyone who loses their health coverage anytime during the year to contact them to find out what their options are, as some will qualify for a Special Enrollment Period.
For more information about the West Virginia Navigator Program, visit www.ACANavigator.com.