Health Insurance Exchange Enrollment Opens, Health Center Swamped
– October 2, 2013 4:24 pm
WOODBRIDGE, Va. – The staff at the Greater Prince William Community Health Center said they were swarmed yesterday with applications to enroll in Virginia’s new healthcare exchange.
Known as the healthcare marketplace, it allows individuals to enroll in health plans provided by private insurance companies. Under the rules, insurers cannot turn away applicants due to a prior illness or condition, and the plans cover essential healthcare needs like hospitalization and surgery, outpatient care, maternity care, mental health services, rehabilitation, prescription drugs, laboratory services, and preventative care.
Tuesday was the first day to enroll in the exchange, and enrollment lasts until March 31, 2014. Coverage will begin for those already enrolled in the program as early as Jan. 1, 2014.
More in a press release:
Interest in the marketplace was greater than expected. Both individuals and a large number of multi-generational families visited the Center to inquire about education and enrollment services. Phone lines stayed busy as counselors fielded a 15% increase in telephone call inquiries.
The day was not without glitches. The Internet portal, healthcare.gov was down for much of the day due to unexpected high levels of demand. That did not stop enrollment processes in Woodbridge. Counselors assisted with paper applications and provided answers to questions.
Many questions remain about how the exchange will work, and the Greater Prince William Health Center plans to hold three informational sessions to help residents understand more about the costs and potential cost-savings for medical insurance.
The sessions begin at 6:30pm and will provide the public with a better understanding of the enrollment process, whether financial aid is available, and possible exemptions available to them. The public will also have an opportunity to tour the Center, meet the staff, and begin the enrollment process at each session.
The Certified Assistance Counselors provide free education and enrollment services to the public during open enrollment period from October 1, 2013 to March 31, 2014. Services include application completion, review of eligibility rules, and possible exemptions. The CACs speak both English and Spanish and are available daily from 8:00am – 4:30pm Tuesday, Thursday and Friday and from 8:00am – 7:00pm each Monday and Wednesday. For more efficient service, the public is requested to schedule a Marketplace appointment at 703.680.7950, Extension 3311, 3312, or 3219 or at info@GPWHealthCenter.org.