Certified application counselors were onsite at Chester City Hall to help anyone who wanted to enroll for health care through the Health Insurance Marketplace last Wednesday. ChesPenn Health Services, in collaboration with the Philadelphia Health Access Network (PHAN), gave a special presentation answering questions residents might have about the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the “marketplace.”
“The Philadelphia Health Access Network came in and did a presentation on the Affordable Care Act and also on the health insurance marketplace. It was very informative,” said Sheila Church, director of outreach at ChesPenn. “It went over what the laws had made changes to and also that the healthcare.gov process is a little quicker than it was initially.”
As the March 31st deadline draws closer, Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC) like ChesPenn are organizing throughout the county and state to provide assistance to people who want to gain access and health coverage by the Monday deadline. After the early afternoon presentation, ChesPenn provided “onsite,” one-on-one help for residents who needed guidance through the process of signing up. Church said people typically like the help because they can sometimes overlook particular needs they might have.
“Something they may look for is to make sure their medications are covered in that particular network or your hospital or doctor. Those (are the) kind of things that people may not think of when they’re sitting at home,” explained Church. “We’re just a guide and to help them explore what their needs are. You want to get insurance based on your own needs.”
Church said that although people are excited about the financial assistance provided for them, there are still others who will not qualify because Pennsylvania’s not expanding Medicaid to those who currently fall in the awkward middle financially.
“I think people are excited about it once you provide a little education. Of course you have to explain exactly what it does, how it helps, how if you qualify for a subsidy it’s affordable,” said Church. “There are still going to be people who are not eligible for the marketplace and still make too much to be on Medical Assistance because we didn’t expand it.”
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 349,151 Pennsylvania residents are eligible to enroll in a marketplace plan and so far, 159,821 have selected one as of March 1st. Athena Smith-Ford, PHAN advocacy director, said PHAN is doing all it can to make sure that all who are eligible are signed up.
“PHAN has been working diligently to help enroll Pennsylvanians in the new health insurance marketplace. In Delaware County we’ve been connecting with folks in libraries, in their homes, and through our hotline,” detailed Smith-Ford. “PHAN has also partnered with other consumer organizations to form InsurePA. People seeking in-person assistance can call the InsurePA hotline to make an appointment with a certified application counselor, or to enroll in Medicaid or CHIP. The number is 855-486-9331.”