Get Ready! It’s Time to Sign up for Health Insurance

The SHS Certified Application Counselors are ready to help with your health care insurance enrollment. From left, Janelle Strozier, Dr. Karimah Baptiste-Edward, and Angela Rogers.

The SHS Certified Application Counselors are ready to help with your health care insurance enrollment. From left, Janelle Strozier, Dr. Karimah Baptiste-Edward, and Angela Rogers.

Open enrollment season is nearly here. That means it’s time for you to examine your health insurance options and make choices about coverage. You can enroll, make updates, or change your plan between November 1, 2016, and January 31, 2017.

SHS is here to help. Dr. Karimah Baptiste-Edward, Manager of SHS Outreach and Enrollment, and her team are ready to help you pick the right plan that meets  your needs.

“There are a lot of moving parts,” she said, noting some insurance providers have pulled out and others have made changes to plans. “If you are re-enrolling, you’ll want to shop for the best deal and update your application.”

Even if your financial or employment status hasn’t changed, Dr. Baptiste-Edward encourages a visit with the Certified Application Counselors at SHS.

“We might see things that you don’t,” she said. “We’re trained and we’re here to help you navigate the system.”

A counselor can also help with the application process for financial assistance, which is based on projected income and family size. In this region, approximately 86 percent of people who got coverage in the health insurance marketplace (HealthCare.gov) qualified for financial assistance to help lower the cost of their health insurance plan..

This year’s enrollment programs include some new “Simple Choice Plans” or standard packages designed to make comparisons easier. The plans are grouped in tiers – Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum.

Some common questions our counselors hear:

Why do I need insurance? Just in case! We don’t walk around thinking something catastrophic is going to happen, but if it does, you know you won’t be bankrupt too. Medical bills are the No. 1 cause of bankruptcy and insurance can protect you.

Is it going to be more expensive? There may be a rate increase, but it’s still better than rates before the Affordable Care Act. Also, if you qualify for a subsidy, that can soften the blow.

How long does it take to sign up? The visit time varies, anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours. We suggest you plan on an hour. We’ll take as much time as you need.

What happens in these sessions? We ask you to bring your social security number, an income statement, like a paycheck or unemployment benefit, plus I.D.s and dates of birth for everyone who’ll be covered. We talk about what’s important to you – specific health concerns, medications you’re currently taking, which physicians you want to see. We help figure out what you can afford and show you all the plans. We help you sign up.

Where can I go to meet with a counselor and sign up? Call 816-599-5590 to schedule with our counselors at any of our locations: Central, South, Independence, Hickman Mills, Belton, Northland, Wyandotte and West.

Resources:

Don’t wait till the last minute! Enroll by December 15 and coverage will begin as early as January 1.To be sure you’re covered, call 816-599-5590 to schedule your visit.

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