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Joplin residents receive help in signing up for health insurance - KOAM TV 7

Joplin residents receive help in signing up for health insurance under Affordable Care Act mandate

Updated:
As the March 31st deadline approaches for open enrollment in the Missouri Health Insurance Marketplace, many are scrambling to choose a plan in time.
A statewide enrollment effort took place today.
Certified Application Consultants are helping Joplin residents sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act mandate.
"I am glad to have the help," said John Heckman, Joplin resident.  "I've thought about trying it on my own, just going on the site and navigating it myself, but I prefer having somebody help."
Heckman is already insured, but is considering switching plans.
"I just want to see what's out there, see if I can save any money," he said.
Local healthcare providers with the Cover Missouri Coalition provide information on Coventry and Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, the two insurance plans offered through the marketplace.
"We can go ahead and help them actually click enroll and make their first premium payment to their insurance company," said Amanda Mitchell, Certified Application Consultant with Freeman Health System.
Mitchell says many are currently uninsured and working to avoid the negative impact of missing the enrollment deadline.
"If they don't purchase insurance before March 31st, they may be subject to different types of penalties on their tax return for the following year," she said.
Once they do get a plan, Mitchell says unfortunately, not everyone will save money.  Anyone with an individual household annual income below $11,490 will not qualify for tax credits, which would reduce the monthly premium amount.
"There's a whole group of people that fall into this gap, that they aren't eligible for Medicaid and then they also aren't eligible for tax credits through the marketplace to make that premium affordable," Mitchell said.
While some do fall in that gap, others remain optimistic that they might find a good deal.
"I think there's just, nationwide, a negative attitude about the whole thing," Heckman said.  "People need to keep more of an open mind about it."
For more information on health insurance marketplace assistance in your community, the Cover Missouri Coalition has a list of consultants available by zip code on its website at www.covermissouri.org.
Today's enrollment events were held at the public libraries in Joplin, Carthage, Neosho, Pineville and Lamar.  Organizers plan to hold another enrollment event before the March 31st deadline.
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