Enrollment event offers ACA help

Health StockBy Michaela Gibson Morris

Daily Journal

TUPELO – Cover MS will host special events in Tupelo and five other cities Saturday to help access health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

Trained navigators and certified application counselors will help people set up accounts, apply for tax credit subsidies and compare insurance plans from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Link Centre in Tupelo.

“It’s a good chance to get one-on-one help,” said Jarvis Dortch of the Mississippi Health Advocacy Program, which is leading the Cover MS coalition to help people enroll in health insurance through the federally run exchange.

People who attend Saturday should bring names and Social Security numbers for all to be covered, 2013 income tax return (or information on annual income), and existing health policy information for comparison, said Valerie Long, executive director of CATCH Kids, program host as part of the coalition.

Those who already have a healthcare.gov account need to bring a user name and password.

“Our first goal is to set up accounts online,” Dortch said. “We’ve had much better success (with the healthcare.gov web site) than we did in October.”

Participants don’t have to be ready to make a final decision on health insurance Saturday. In many cases, people will opt to take time to evaluate their options, Dortch said.

Consumers also have more time to sign up and have coverage start on Jan. 1. On Friday, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid announced the deadline was extended to Dec. 23 to enroll in a health plan. The first premium must be paid by Dec. 31. Open enrollment runs through March 31.

For people who can’t make the Saturday event, two agencies in Tupelo now offer in-person help. CATCH Kids has two people trained as navigators. Access Family Health has a certified enrollment counselor.

michaela.morris@journalinc.com