Open Enrollment for health insurance coverage in 2020 through the Affordable Care Act begins Friday, November 1 through and ends Sunday, December 15. HealthCare.gov and CuidadodeSalud.gov are the official websites for the Federal Health Insurance Exchange, also known as the Marketplace, where U.S. citizens can insurance shop online and enroll and purchase health coverage.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services said that for the first time HealthCare.gov will also display quality rating information in states that use the site, expanding the information available for consumers in their decision-making when comparing health coverage choices.
Also, some new players are joining the Missouri health insurance marketplace this year.
“One is in the St. Louis area. It is called WellFirst Health, and it is for the SSM system,” said Nancy Kelley, program director for Expanding Coverage at the Missouri Foundation for Health. “That’s new, and that’s available in St. Louis, St. Louis County and St. Charles County.”
SSM already owns and operates a health insurance organization in Wisconsin.
Two insurance companies returning in the St. Louis area, Kelley said, are Ambetter and Cigna.
Passively allowing your current health insurance to automatically renew through the Marketplace may not do you justice, Kelley said. She advised consumers to look at what is offered this year as prices, coverage options, and the family’s financial status may have changed.
“Each year, even if it’s the same company, they tend to change the plans somewhat and the cost may change,” Kelley said. “We strongly recommend people don’t do what they call ‘auto re-enroll,’ because then you’re being passive; you’re not making that decision to still be sure that’s still the best plan for you and your family.”
HealthCare.gov has a Call Center for consumers as they compare plan options and apply for coverage throughout Open Enrollment. Additionally, in-person assistance will continue to be available to help consumers with enrollment, including certified application counselors and federally funded navigators.
Affinia, CareSTL Health, and People’s Family of Corporations all have certified application counselors who can assist with health insurance enrollment and renewal during normal business hours.
“When people come to apply for a Health Insurance Marketplace plan, sometimes they may qualify for other coverage for themselves or their children, such as the Gateway to Better Health Program or Medicaid,” said Yvonne Buhlinger, vice president of Development and Community Relations at Affinia Healthcare.
All three are also hosting application assistance events.
Affinia is hosting application assistance events from 4-7 p.m. Wednesday, November 6 and Wednesday, November 13 at 2220 Lemp Ave.; and 4-7 p.m. Wednesday, November 20 at 1717 Biddle St. You also can call Affinia’s Outreach Information Line at 314-814-8778 to set up an appointment or walk in to any of its clinics from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.
CareSTL Health is asking that individuals who normally visit its Riverview Boulevard and Pope Avenue locations to enroll or renew at its 5471 Dr. Martin Luther King Dr. or at 2425 N. Whittier St. sites.
“Individuals should be prepared and be patient because the process can take some time,” said Teonna Thorpe, an outreach coordinator and one of the certified application counselors at CareSTL Health. “It depends and it varies, but we are here to assist and we will get them through the process.”
CareSTL Health also is hosting a free Skate EN Roll Party for its patients 7-10 p.m. Tuesday, November 19 at Skate King, 2700 Kienlen Ave.
People’s Family of Corporations has certified application counselors to assist with enrollment at its central site at 5701 Delmar Blvd. and its North County site at 11642 West Florissant Blvd. People’s is also hosting a Community Wellness and Resource Fair on Saturday, November 23, where attendees will receive health insurance Marketplace assistance, and those who enroll will receive a free turkey once they complete all screenings and assessments. Find out more by clicking the news tab at peoplesfamilystl.org.
To find enrollment help by location near you, go to CoverMissouri.org or contact its call center at 1-800-466-3213. CoverMissouri.org features information to help understand the enrollment process, health insurance terminology and get an idea of financial help that may be available before you enroll at HealthCare.gov.
“Four out of five Missourians have gotten some type of financial help to make those premiums hopefully a little bit more affordable and sometimes help reduce some of those out-of-pocket costs as well,” Kelley said.
Kelley also advised to take a careful look at deductibles, which can be several thousand dollars in out-of-pocket costs. “We have seen some of those deductibles really creep up, so a $6,000 deductible almost feels like you don’t have insurance at all,” Kelley said.
Kelley also pointed out that health insurance plans not offered through the Marketplace do not have the financial breaks offered through HeathCare.gov.
“In order to get that financial help and to get plans that have the kind of essential health benefits and that don’t discriminate because of pre-existing conditions, you have to make sure that you are looking at the Marketplace – at HealthCare.gov,” Kelley said.
For further Open Enrollment information, contact the Marketplace by calling 1-800-318-2596 (TTY 1-855-889-4325) or check out plans and enroll online at HealthCare.gov.