OHIO COUNTY, W.Va. — On Wednesday, November 30, representatives will be available for free, in-person ACA Marketplace Health Insurance enrollment and re-enrollment assistance at the Ohio County Public Library located at 52 16th St, Wheeling.

This event will be hosted by WV Navigator, a federally funded non-profit program operated by First Choice Services. Appointments are not necessary – walk-ins will be taken all day between 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

The Affordable Care Act’s annual Open Enrollment period runs from November 1 to January 15 and new rules have made the program stronger than ever. New rules have greatly expanded who can qualify.

Last year, a record number of people enrolled in healthcare coverage through the Marketplace. In West Virginia, more than 9 in 10 people that got their insurance on the Marketplace were eligible for a monthly subsidy that helps them pay for the plan they selected.  New rules for this year’s Open Enrollment have strengthened the program even more so that thousands of families in West Virginia will likely qualify to get coverage as well. 

Recently, the U.S Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released a record amount of grant funding to organizations that provide free help to consumers requiring health coverage enrollment assistance. In West Virginia, First Choice Services was awarded $1,050,000 to continue and expand their WV Navigator program. The program provides free assistance to people finding and selecting health care options through the Marketplace, Medicaid and CHIP. They can assist with enrollment applications and help consumers apply for financial assistance through HealthCare.gov.

WV Navigator can assist people over the phone or in their offices in Charleston, Martinsburg, Fairmont, and Huntington. In addition, enrollment events will be held in around the state so that people can walk in and receive assistance without an appointment

“Most people will be able to qualify for substantially lower costs this year if they get their insurance on the Marketplace,” said Jeremy Smith, program director for WV Navigator. “We are really urging people to look at the new plans and prices that are being released this year. In a lot of cases, the plans are more affordable than we have ever seen. Even if you have looked into insurance on the Marketplace in past years and were not very happy, you should definitely look into it again this year.” Smith says getting help signing up is important, as many people are overwhelmed by the options or may not realize how to shop for affordable health coverage.

Consumers who come back to the Health Insurance Marketplace this year can expect to see some very important updates and expansions.  New rules will expand eligibility to those that had previously been blocked from getting the coverage because they had an unaffordable offer of insurance through an employer. This fix to the “Family Glitch” will expand eligibility to thousands of families. Additionally, the signing of the Inflation Reduction Act secured enhanced subsidies and locked in lower prices for Marketplace plans for three more years.  It also kept in place that higher income earners can continue to enroll in subsidized coverage as well. 

It is important that West Virginians pay attention to Open Enrollment deadlines. For January 1 coverage, sign up must be completed by December 15. Open Enrollment will completely end on January 15. People who already have a plan and need to re-enroll are encouraged to double-check the network and prescription drug coverage for any changes, and to update their information in case they qualify for any additional cost-savings. For free assistance the WV Navigator program is available by calling 304-356-5834 or visiting www.ACANavigator.com.