Missouri ‘navigators’ prepare for health insurance marketplace enrollment
Catherine Edwards, executive director of the Missouri Association of Area Agencies on Aging (MA4), announced that plans and people are in place for open enrollment for health insurance plans offered through the newly created Health Insurance Marketplace. Open enrollment for the new policies began on October 1. MA4 was selected as one of two statewide navigator groups that will provide information and outreach regarding the new program.
According to Edwards, individuals and small businesses will be able to shop for health insurance coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace in a variety of ways, including online, in-person, by phone and at events and locations established by partner organizations during the open enrollment period.
“For most Missourians, the easiest way to access the Health Insurance Marketplace will be online at www.HealthCare.gov,” said Edwards. “This site can introduce you to the insurance plans available in Missouri and can direct you to regional and local resources if additional assistance is needed. If you would prefer to access the Health Insurance Marketplace by phone, help is available by calling 1-800-318-2596 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. TTY users can also access the Marketplace by phone at 1-833-889-4325,” added Edwards.
For individuals wishing to explore new insurance options in person, a network of trained “Navigators” has been established throughout the state of Missouri. Nine regional information centers have been established at this time. More information may also be found online at www.ma4web.org. The address for the district center serving Northeast MO AAA is at 815 N. Osteopathy, Kirksville, Mo. 63501. The phone number is 800-664-6338. Pam Windtberg is the executive director.
Additional events will also be hosted throughout the state during the open enrollment period. Missourians may also receive updates via Twitter at @ma4voice. As Navigators, MA4 serves all individuals, regardless of age.
“As a reminder, however,” Edwards added,” if you are on Medicare you do not need to enroll through the Marketplace. You will continue to enroll in Medicare Part D as before and continue as you have before with Medicare. The Navigator program is targeting individuals without insurance 64 years of age and younger.”
Under the new Health Insurance Marketplace system, affordable health insurance policies will be offered by multiple private insurance providers with tiered cost options. Coverage cannot be denied due to pre-existing conditions and many preventive health care services are provided under terms of the policies offered in the Marketplace. The new system is designed to help currently uninsured Missourians find affordable health insurance options for themselves and their families.
“The process is not difficult,” said Edwards. “We invite all Missourians who need insurance to visit the Marketplace. For individuals who want to have a new health insurance policy in place by January 1, they must sign up during the open enrollment period which is Oct. 1-Dec. 15. So you have plenty of time,” added Edwards. However, individuals who wait until after December 15 to enroll will incur a penalty.
This year, MA4 was recognized as one of two Navigator organizations charged with providing access to the newly formed Health Insurance Marketplace. Despite the organization’s focus on senior health and wellness, all services provided by MA4 under the new program will be available to all Missourians, regardless of age.