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Health insurance changes make coverage less expensive, more accessible

Updated: May. 11, 2021 at 6:41 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - Changes to health insurance are making coverage less expensive and more accessible.

ENROLL Virginia helps answer questions in hopes of making the process feel less overwhelming.

“I say there are a lot of obstacles people face when they are trying to find health insurance. One of them just being the lack of information. Sometimes they don’t know the options that are available to them,” ENROLL Virginia Outreach Coordinator Amber Poron said.

The organization works to inform people about recent federal changes that could help people find the coverage they need.

“I think the pandemic has definitely raised awareness about the importance of having health insurance,” Poron said. “So we have really seen a very steady pace. It has not slowed down. Normally our open enrollment is very busy from November to December 15 and it feels like our open enrollment just hasn’t stopped.”

Part of that feeling is due to the fact that enrollment through the Health Insurance Marketplace has been extended through August 15, giving people more time to find the plan that works best for them.

Also new subsidies through the American Rescue Plan Act could mean a smaller bill if folks reapply for coverage by the enrollment deadline.

“Their tax credits are going to go up so that means their monthly that they have for paying their health insurance is going to go down,” Poron said.

Immigrant families are also getting easier access to coverage.

The American Rescue Plan Act adjusted its requirements for immigrants applying for Medicaid.

Instead of having to show a 10-year work history, applicants will just need to prove they have been legally residing in the United States for at least five years.

“So that opens the door to a big pocket of families within our community,” Poron said.

The changes in Medicaid requirements will particularly help older immigrants who have not worked in the United States or have retired.

There are also new options for people who have lost their jobs during the pandemic to stay insured.

Poron said COBRA Health Insurance has been fully subsidized and will stay that way until September. This will allow folks who have already lost their insurance through an employer to keep themselves protected.

ENROLL Virginia will answer questions about coverage options and offer free help to those looking to enroll.

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