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New enrollment period for federal health insurance is underway and has a new option for some Missouri residents

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The new sign-up period for federal health insurance is now underway.

About 100,000 people across the country submitted new applications on HealthCare.gov over the weekend.

Local healthcare navigators discuss changes to this year's enrollment. 

"Having no insurance, it's not fun," said Sylvia Scanlan, Joplin resident.

Scanlan is currently uninsured, which is why she took advantage of the free assistance available from local healthcare navigators to determine whether she is eligible for Obamacare.

"She was a great help to be there and walk us through," Scanlan said.

Healthcare navigators with Freeman Health System have received numerous calls for assistance since the new Marketplace enrollment period began on Saturday.

This year, Jasper and Newton county residents have a third option for insurance coverage, which navigators highly recommend looking into.

"We didn't have Humana last year, so there may be another health insurance company that may provide a plan that might fit their needs better," said Amanda Mitchell, Marketplace project manager, Freeman Health System.

Some residents are switching plans to lower monthly premium amounts.

"Every plan has a lot of different options," Mitchell said. "If you want to have a lower out-of-pocket cost, you might have a plan that has a higher premium or vice versa."

Whether re-enrolling, or enrolling for the first time, navigators say there is a December 15 deadline for anyone wishing to receive Marketplace coverage beginning January 1, 2015.

The deadline to avoid penalties for not enrolling in a plan is February 15.

"There are steeper penalties this year, compared to last year," Mitchell said. "You won't notice those penalties until you file your tax returns for that particular year."

Those who enrolled last year but do not re-enroll in a different plan, will automatically be re-enrolled in their previous plan.

Freeman Health System will provide enrollment assistance at Billingsly Student Center at Missouri Southern State University, this Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
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