December 15th is the last day to sign up for coverage under the federal Health Exchange. Federal funding for enrollment assistance was cut from three million dollars to 500-thousand. While a reduction in funding and elimination of support by the current president has made the deadline less visible, it’s no less important.
Insurance policies are still available and subsidies are there for those who qualify. It’s not a perfect system, and I know this first hand. However, I also know that the Health Exchange has protected my family from a significant financial impact, or living with no coverage at all since my husband was laid off from his corporate job. It has allowed him to grow a business that now employs more than 10 people, and we are proud to provide coverage to our full time employees.
For the third time, I sat down with a Health Navigator this year, and while I could likely sign up for coverage myself, it’s comforting to have someone “hold your hand” while you’re doing it. Speaking for our situation, our premium only went up by a few dollars a month and that was because we opted for slightly better coverage. I know this is not the case for everyone.
Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, many more residents now have access to affordable health insurance plans. Last year alone, more than 524,000 North Carolinians signed up for health care coverage. And nine out of 10 people received financial aid to help them pay for their health plan.
There is help available to those interested in signing up. You can find more information here (https://localhelp.healthcare.gov/#/) for local help available. Also, North Carolina has its own network for help. State residents can call 855-733-3711, or visit NCNavigator.net to book a free appointment with a certified in-person assister in their community.