NC Navigators Available to Help With ACA Open Enrollment

A woman pondering about health care insurance.

NC navigators are here to help North Carolinians enroll in affordable, comprehensive health insurance plans on HealthCare.gov during the Affordable Care Act’s sixth open-enrollment period, which runs through Dec. 15, 2018.

Throughout open enrollment, North Carolina consumers can call 1-855-733-3711 (toll-free) or visit ncnavigator.net to schedule a free, confidential, in-person appointment with a certified NC navigator in their area.

NC navigators are trained to help consumers enroll in coverage on the Health Insurance Marketplace at HealthCare.gov, the online storefront that consumers can visit to browse and enroll in affordable, comprehensive health insurance plans.

NC navigators can help consumers understand the details of the plans available on HealthCare.gov, complete the enrollment process and determine their eligibility for financial assistance. Last year, nine in 10 North Carolinians who enrolled in coverage on HealthCare.gov received financial assistance.

During this open enrollment period, NC navigators will help consumers understand the differences between the comprehensive plans available on HealthCare.gov and the new alternative plans, known as short-term, limited-duration (STLD) insurance, or association plans, which provide less coverage and patient protections than HealthCare.gov plans.

Every insurance plan available on HealthCare.gov provides comprehensive, year-round coverage that includes essential benefits like prescription drugs, hospital visits, mental health care, maternity care, doctor visits and more. HealthCare.gov plans also include important patient protections, including one that prohibits insurers from denying coverage for pre-existing medical conditions. HealthCare.gov plans automatically renew every year, so consumers do not experience gaps in coverage.

The alternative plans, which are not available on HealthCare.gov, do not necessarily provide year-round coverage; do not have to cover essential health benefits like prescription drugs, hospital visits, mental health care, maternity care and doctor visits; allow insurers to deny coverage for pre-existing conditions; and do not automatically renew, which could leave consumers with gaps in coverage.

HealthCare.gov is the only place to get quality, affordable health insurance that covers everything you need,” Mark Van Arnam, co-director of the NC Navigator Consortium, said. “Navigators are here to help North Carolinians understand all their options and find the plan that best meets their needs and fits their budget.”

“We want consumers to know that financial assistance is still available,” Eunice Lee-Ahn, co-director of the Consortium, said. “Most North Carolinians enrolled in a HealthCare.gov plan get financial help that lowers their monthly cost to about the same as a cell phone. Navigators can help consumers determine if they are eligible for financial assistance and sign up for it as part of the enrollment process.”

North Carolinians who are already enrolled in a HealthCare.gov plan will automatically get re-enrolled in 2019 coverage, but navigators are urging consumers to check back in to see if a more suitable plan is available. Rates have dropped in some areas, so consumers might be able to find a plan that offers equivalent or better coverage for cheaper.