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Historic Investment in Health Insurance Navigation Programs to Benefit West Virginia

WV Navigator to Offer Free Enrollment Assistance

The West Virginia Navigator program has received funding to continue providing free assistance to West Virginians who need assistance enrolling in health insurance. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently announced 98.9 million dollars in grant funding nationwide for navigator organizations. Navigators help consumers determine eligibility, select plans and prepare applications. WV Navigator, which assists uninsured West Virginians with enrollment in Medicaid, Children’s Health Insurance Plan (CHIP), and Marketplace plans through the Affordable Care Act (ACA), is one of these grantees.

Last year, over 23,000 West Virginians enrolled in Marketplace plans, and over 622,000 people in the state were enrolled in either Medicaid or CHIP. Still, there are a lot of West Virginians who are going without health insurance. According to United Health Foundation, approximately 6.7% of West Virginians lack health insurance coverage. 

As part of the American Rescue Plan, new rules greatly expanded subsidies and lowered monthly ACA premiums to their most affordable level yet. Last year, 94% of West Virginian applicants qualified for financial help in obtaining health care coverage, with many qualifying for plans at less than $10 per month. Most high-income earners are also now able to qualify for lower-cost plans. The recently passed Inflation Reduction Act ensures that those subsidies will be available through 2025.  

Jeremy Smith, program director for WV Navigator, says getting help signing up is essential. Many people are overwhelmed by the options or may not realize how to shop for affordable health coverage. He also cautioned, “Around this time of year, we see many scams pop up. People start receiving unsolicited telephone calls or they click on ads for programs that claim to provide cheap insurance, but many don’t meet the high standards of the ACA, so when you’re sick and need it most, you may not be covered. Some aren’t insurance plans at all but are schemes to obtain personal information. It’s crucial to talk to a reputable organization.”

Although most enroll in plans during Marketplace Open Enrollment, which starts November 1, 2022, and ends January 15, 2023, several exceptions make people eligible for a Special Enrollment Period throughout the year. WV Navigator can help determine if you are eligible for this. 

Anyone in West Virginia can call 1-844-WV-CARES or (304) 356-5834 to get free enrollment assistance. Consultations are available over the telephone, in person at their offices in

Charleston, Barboursville, Fairmont, or Martinsburg, or through a telehealth option, allowing callers to see their application completed in real-time. There is no charge for enrollment assistance. More information is available at www.acanavigator.com

Sources:

https://www.hhs.gov/about/news/index.html
https://www.americashealthrankings.org/explore/annual/measure/HealthInsurance/state/WV