By JB Clark
TUPELO – Representatives from Catch Kids and Access Family Health Services helped Northeast Mississippians learn more about and sign up for health care under the new Affordable Care Act on Saturday morning at the Link Centre.
They were part of Cover Mississippi, a coalition making sure all Mississippians have health insurance before the Affordable Care Act open enrollment closes.
“This is for folks who don’t have coverage or who couldn’t get insurance because of preexisting conditions or their health care is too high,” said Valerie Long, executive director of Catch Kids.
In order to have health insurance coverage through the Affordable Care Act’s marketplaces by Jan. 1, Mississippians must choose a plan and pay the first month’s premium by Dec. 23. To avoid being charged a penalty for lack of coverage, uninsured residents must enroll by March 31, when the marketplace’s open enrollment ends.
After that time, it closes and will not reopen until October.
As of Nov. 26, 148 Mississippians were registered for health care under the Affordable Care Act, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Nine people took advantage of the registration workshop Saturday.
“Most people don’t want to call the 1-800 number and give their Social to a stranger,” said Melissa Kuykendall, of Access Family Health Services. “They want to talk to someone who lives in Tupelo and talks like they do.”
Kuykendall has been using paper applications because of the healthcare.gov website glitches. One applicant who didn’t want to be named started the application process online Saturday but will have to return next week to finish due to glitches with the website.
The application process determines how big of a subsidy the applicant applies for. The subsidy can then be applied to the premium of the available insurance plans so the applicant pays the discounted rate.
Representatives will continue to walk applicants through the application process. Appointments can be made with Catch Kids at (662) 377-2194 and with Access Family Health Services at 844-4252.