CHARLESTON — People have a new opportunity to enroll in health insurance for 2021 on HealthCare.gov, but only for a limited time. This new COVID-19 open enrollment period starts Feb. 15 and ends on May 15.
With job losses continuing to mount amid the COVID-19 resurgence, and millions of people having lost their job-based health insurance since the start of this public health and economic crisis, the Biden administration has opened up HealthCare.gov to give people who need health insurance a new opportunity to get covered, but they must act quickly.
Jeremy Smith, program director for WV Navigator, a nonprofit enrollment assistance group, said getting help signing up is important, as many people are overwhelmed by the options or may not realize how to shop for affordable health coverage. He said “more than 19,000 West Virginians enrolled in a health insurance plan during open enrollment but we know there are thousands of families out there that still need coverage. ”
Financial help is available when signing up for health insurance through the Marketplace. Last year, 9 in 10 applicants qualified for financial help in obtaining health care coverage. Consumers enrolling in a plan on HealthCare.gov are guaranteed to receive comprehensive coverage, with no pre-existing condition exclusions or markups. All plans cover essential benefits, including doctor and hospital visits, prescription drugs, mental health treatment and maternity care. In addition, consumers receive free preventive care services, such as immunizations and health screenings. Testing and treatment of COVID-19 are considered essential health benefits and are covered by all HealthCare.gov plans.
Consumers should avoid insurance plans offered outside of HealthCare.gov that seem too good to be true. “Junk insurance” products pose huge financial risks to consumers. These products can refuse to pay for care for pre-existing conditions, charge consumers more based on their gender, and impose annual coverage limits.
Anyone in West Virginia can call 304-356-5834 to reserve a telephone appointment with WV Navigator to get free enrollment assistance. Consultations are available over the telephone or through a telehealth option, which will allow callers to see their application completed in real-time. There is no charge for enrollment assistance. The agency is a free program to West Virginia residents and receives federal funding to assist consumers with enrolling in Medicaid or in private health insurance through provisions of the Affordable Care Act.