2017-11-13 / LifeStyles

Mary Black Gaffney offering free Health Insurance Marketplace application assistance

If you need help comparing plans or filling-out an application on the Health Insurance Marketplace, Mary Black Health System - Gaffney is once again offering free assistance during Open Enrollment, November 1 – December 15, 2017.

Appointments may be made with the hospital’s certified assisters by calling 864-487-1508.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) was passed in 2010, and this year’s Open Enrollment marks the fifth annual campaign to extend healthcare coverage to citizens who would otherwise be uninsured. More than 12.2 million people enrolled in Marketplace plans for 2017.

News of several large insurers either reducing their participation in the upcoming Marketplace, or exiting it altogether, has spurred concern about rising premiums (monthly fees) and higher deductibles (predetermined amounts of healthcare expense an individual pays before health plan coverage “kicks in”.)

“There are always questions concerning changes to premiums, deductibles and out-of-pocket limits before Open Enrollment launches each year,” explains Joshua Self, CEO of Mary Black Health System - Gaffney. “This will always be the case as insurers enter and exit different markets. But what is consistent, year-to-year, is the value of the Marketplace. Millions of people are able to sign up for insurance who otherwise wouldn’t have access to care, or who would face a financial crisis due to medical bills.”

Majority of enrollees will receive assistance

To help make health insurance affordable, the government uses household income to determine who is eligible for financial assistance. This aid might include advanced tax credits to help pay for premiums, or discounts on co-pays and deductibles. As in past years, a majority of enrollees are expected to qualify for some type of financial support in 2018. Individuals who are re-enrolling on the marketplace are encouraged to reevaluate and compare plans, as the lowest-cost option can change from year to year.

“I think this is where our certified assisters add so much value,” says Self. “They know how to explain the pros and cons of each option, and they carefully screen each person to make sure any subsidies toward premiums, or any discounts available for deductibles or copays, are accessed.”

All health plans on the Marketplace must offer a comprehensive set of benefits, and coverage cannot be denied for individuals with a pre-existing health condition. Some of the health benefits include free preventive care and wellness services; doctor visits, prescription drugs, hospital and emergency department care, lab services, pediatric services, and mental and behavioral health treatment.

Penalties

Individuals who are eligible for health insurance who do not purchase coverage not only pay a penalty when filing their tax return, but they also forfeit financial help with healthcare expenses throughout the year. The penalty is either 2.5 percent of family income or a predetermined flat rate, whichever is higher.

Open enrollment for healthcare coverage: Nov. 1, 2017 to Dec. 15, 2017

To make an appointment for application assistance: 864-487-1508

Return to top

Print Edition

Click here for digital edition
2017-11-13 digital edition

Special Sections

Poll

Sen. Harvey Peeler (R-Gaffney) sponsored a resolution Dec. 7 for the Senate Committee on Interstate Cooperation to study the potential impact of not recognizing Daylight Savings Time. Do you think DST should be abolished?