Annual window has opened to enroll through Healthcare.gov
By CELIA LLOPIS-JEPSEN
Kansas News Service
In 2014, a man in his fifties showed up at GraceMed Health Clinic in
Wichita, asking about his options for buying health insurance.
He hadn’t bothered with coverage before. The expense proved daunting for someone running his own business.
GraceMed employee Juven Nava recalls helping the man find coverage for a monthly premium of about $20 through Healthcare.gov.
“For such a long time, the one thing that he felt he could sacrifice was health insurance,” Nava said.
And now he finally had it.
“I told him … ‘Use it. Get everything checked out. You haven’t been to a doctor in forever.’ “
So the self-employed man did just that. The checkups uncovered cancer, and he began treatment.
The experience stuck with Nava, who has helped people sign up for subsidized health insurance every year since.
This year, more uninsured Kansans qualify for financial aid than before the pandemic. It’s part of a coronavirus relief law that Congress passed in March.
About 260,000 Kansans don’t have health insurance. The Kaiser Family Foundation
estimated in May that about 70,000 uninsured Kansans are eligible for
free health plans through Healthcare.gov for 2022. Tens of thousands
more can get discounted premiums, sometimes as low as $10 a month.
of the temporary pandemic-related changes, some people who earn more
than four times the poverty level will find they qualify for subsidies.
On Monday, the annual enrollment period kicked off for people who want to buy health insurance through Healthcare.gov for 2022.
Enrollment continues until Jan. 15, but if you want your coverage to start on Jan. 1, you need to sign up no later than Dec. 15.
How can you get help exploring your options?
leads a team of bilingual experts at GraceMed — about half a dozen
navigators who’ll sit with you for free in Wichita or Topeka, talk about
your options and answer every question you’ve wondered about insurance
Out-of-pocket maximums? Coinsurance? Bronze, silver and gold plans? It’s their job to make sense of it for you.
The next few months promise to be busy for the GraceMed team. Their work is in demand.
were already receiving calls a month ago … trying to get on our
navigator schedules,” Nava said. “So this week, it’s pretty packed.”
They meet with people one-on-one, in English or Spanish, and try to
get to everyone. Sometimes they call on colleagues at other clinics to
help. They can also point people to assistance in other languages.
If you want to talk to a navigator, Nava recommends checking for an expert near you, because meeting in person is valuable.
you can call the coalition at (866) 826-8375 to ask questions or
schedule an appointment that could take place in person, over the phone
or by video conference.
Some Kansans have more insurance plans to pick from this year.
isn’t the only place you can buy insurance, but if you qualify for
subsidies, you can only get that financial help by going through the
This year, seven companies are selling
insurance to Kansans on Healthcare.gov, including local options like
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas and national insurers like Cigna.
That’s more options than ever. It continues a dramatic trend over the past several years of increasing options:
- 2019: Three insurers offered 23 plans across Kansas.
- 2020: Five insurers offered 82 plans.
- 2021: Six insurers offered 100 plans.
- 2022: Seven insurers are offering 123 plans.
choices vary by county. Most rural counties only have three insurance
companies to choose from. More urban areas have more options.
Llopis-Jepsen reports on consumer health for the Kansas News Service.
You can follow her on Twitter @celia_LJ or email her at [email protected]