By: Mona Shand
ST. LOUIS, Mo. – When it comes to open enrollment for health-insurance plans through the Affordable Care Act, experts say in many ways, the second time is the charm. With the kinks worked out of the federal “Healthcare.gov” website and more options to choose from, Ryan Barker, vice president of health policy with the Missouri Foundation for Health, says specially trained insurance navigators and assistants are fanning out across the state.
This time around, he says, they know many Missourians are looking for one-on-one help to sort out the details.
“A big lesson learned from the first open-enrollment period, was this need for health-insurance literacy: helping consumers not only understand their plan choices but then to use their insurance once they have chosen a product,” says Barker.
The open-enrollment period runs through Feb. 15, but anyone looking for coverage to begin in January must purchase a plan by Dec. 15. Enrollment-assistance information is available online at http://www.covermissouri.org/
With twice as many insurance options available to Missourians through the federal marketplace this year, Barker says it’s important to reach not just those who are currently uninsured but also those who need to renew their plans.
“One of our messages is to make sure folks come back, look at their renewal options, consider the different types of plans, and see if there’s a plan that works better for their family situation,” he says.
There were 152,000 Missourians enrolled in health-care coverage during the first open-enrollment period, according to the Department of Health and Human Services, with more than 80 percent receiving some form of financial assistance.