PARKERSBURG, W.Va. (WTAP/AP) - Update: 5/13/2019
A new survey by the Centers for Disease Control says 1.1 million Americans lost health insurance coverage in 2018.
Analysts blame the loss on the elimination of the individual mandate approved as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in late 2017.
A West Virginia University professor says restoring the mandate could help improve the numbers, as could other measures he says could be taken at the federal level.
"More outreach for the ACA through marketplaces, more effort to enroll those already eligible for CHIP and Medicaid, and potentially even reintroducing the individual mandate penalty," said Assistant Professor for Public Policy Simon Haeder.
Dr. Haeder is also concerned the declining numbers have come during a strong economy.
He is equally concerned more people could lost health insurance coverage if the economy declines.
Enrollment plans in West Virginia through the federal online health insurance marketplace have declined again this year.
Citing the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the Charleston Gazette-Mail reports about 22,600 West Virginia residents signed up for a 2019 plan on healthcare.gov. Individuals can buy Affordable Care Act-compliant health insurance plans through the website.
Last year, around 27,400 West Virginians signed up for plans. In 2017, the enrollment number for the state was around 34,040.
West Virginians for Affordable Health Care Executive Director Chantal Fields says one reason for the decline may be residents moving from ACA plans onto Medicaid and Medicare rolls.
Beginning with 2019 plans, individuals will no longer pay a penalty on their income taxes if they don't have health insurance.
Information from: The Charleston Gazette-Mail, http://wvgazettemail.com.
(Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
Officials say health insurance enrollment under the Affordable Care Act in West Virginia and Ohio is down this year.
West Virginia Navigator reports a 23 percent decrease in sign-ups compared to the same period last year. Officials there say so far this year, 10,199 people have enrolled, compared to 13,257 at this time last year.
The organization, which is a federally grant-funded project operated by First Choice Services, says that could be due to a number of factors such as the cut of outreach funds, people using websites other than healthcare.gov, and people getting calls from telemarketers trying to sell them plans.
“And often times they’ll get calls 15 or 20 times a day trying to sell them plans that often times aren’t full health insurance plans there what’s called limited benefit plans these plans often don’t cover a lot of the things that most people want when they have a health insurance plan so it’s important to be careful where you’re shopping for your health insurance if you’re looking online make sure you’re going to healthcare.gov,” said Jeremy Smith, the program director for WV Navigator.
There’s a similar decline in Ohio. So far, 89,239 people have enrolled for health insurance under the ACA, compared to 109,475 people at this point last year.
Saturday, December 15th is the open-enrollment deadline in both Ohio and West Virginia.
Smith urges anyone who needs assistance to reach out to the Marketplace Call Center at 1-800-318-2596. He says if you miss the December 15th enrollment deadline you may not be able to get coverage until 2020.
ORIGINAL STORY: 10/31/18
While many Americans are getting ready for the holiday season, others are thinking about their health insurance.
Open enrollment for the Affordable Care Act’s health insurance plans begins November 1. You have until December 15th to re-enroll or enroll in a plan.
Jeremy Smith, the program director of West Virginia Navigator, says 8 in 10 West Virginians qualify for a monthly subsidy from the federal government to help them pay for their insurance. He says the amount you get is based on your family size and income.
“A lot of people if you’re listening to the noise coming out of Washington, you may think that there’s been a lot of changes to the Affordable Care Act but it is still in place for West Virginians and it is an option to be able to get health insurance so we really want you to go ahead and look at your options on healthcare.gov but you need to realize that this is the six week window to go ahead and sign up,” he said.
Once enrolled, the plan will cover you for all of 2019.