DEARBORN, Mich.—Earlier today, ACCESS Executive Director Hassan Jaber joined
Wayne County Executive Warren C. Evans, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Region V Director Kathleen Falk and other leaders from around Wayne County to give residents an exciting message: starting Sunday, you’ll once again have a chance to enroll in quality health coverage through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) – and there is help available to pick a plan that fits your needs and budget. HHS also shared new information on the uninsured and enrollment goals for the third open enrollment period of the ACA.
During the press conference at the Arab American National Museum, Executive Director Jaber shared ACCESS’ plan to assist the public in navigating the Health Insurance Marketplace during the Affordable Care Act 2016 open enrollment period.
“Over the past two enrollment periods, we’ve seen firsthand just how critical financial help is to ensuring Michiganders can afford their coverage,” Jaber said. “That’s why we’re working with partners like Enroll America to help every consumer learn about their coverage options and ultimately find a plan that can help them lead a safe and secure life.”
Into its third year as a Certified Navigator Organization, ACCESS has been able to serve almost 17,000 clients, participating in over 200 informational events, aimed at providing one-on-one fair, accurate and impartial counseling and education about health insurance options from ACCESS navigators.
“In just two days, Wayne County residents will have an opportunity to enroll in quality, affordable health coverage and it’s our job to get the word out,” said Count Executive Evans. “For the next three months, we’re going to work around the clock to make sure every Michiganders who needs health coverage can get the information they need to get coverage that fits their needs and budget. We don’t want to wake up on Feb. 1 knowing that there are more people in need of health coverage, but didn’t know they could get help picking a plan and enrolling.”
Region V Director Falk discussed HHS’s goal of having 10 million individuals enrolled in coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplaces and paying their premiums – so-called effectuated coverage – at the close of 2016.
Falk continued to say that almost 40 percent of the uninsured who qualify for Marketplace plans are living between 139 and 250 percent of the poverty level—which is about 30 to 60 thousand dollars for a family of four, and more than 70% are employed. In fact, nearly 8 in 10 of those who qualify for the Marketplace are eligible for financial help to lower their premiums.
“In just two days, Wayne County residents will once again have the opportunity to explore their coverage options and find a plan that fits their needs and budget,” she said. “And there are resources – including the City of Garden Cities, who are a brand new Navigator grantee - in the Wayne County area to help folks who are uninsured, underinsured, or just want to learn about their options. If you want help making the best decision for your family, schedule a free appointment for enrollment help right now to ensure your questions are answered and you can get quality, affordable coverage.”
On Nov. 1, the Health Insurance Marketplace will reopen, allowing Michiganders to enter the Marketplace and select a plan that fits their needs and budget. Michiganders who currently have coverage through the Marketplace will also have the opportunity to shop for new options and find the plan that is best for them.
During open enrollment, Michiganders can schedule a free appointment to get their questions answered, learn about their coverage options, and actually select a plan and enroll. Dearborn-based ACCESS and the City of Garden Cities, among other organizations, will provide these services to Wayne County residents.
“We know that the uninsured want enrollment help from people right in their community,” said Erin Knott, Michigan State Director for Enroll America, a national non-profit organization that works in Michigan to help consumers understand and take advantage of the Affordable Care Act. “That’s why we’re helping connect the uninsured with free enrollment help so anyone who has questions or wants help enrolling in a plan can get the coverage they need. Wayne County residents should know that they don’t have to navigate this process alone, and there are resources here to help them make the best coverage decision for themselves and their families.”
During previous enrollment periods, Enroll America has found that access to in-person enrollment is critical to helping the uninsured enroll in a plan. In fact, during the second enrollment period, someone who meets with an enrollment assister was 60% more likely to successfully enroll as someone who tried to enroll online by themselves.
The City of Garden Cities received their first Navigator grant from HHS this year, meaning the city will be able to provide consumers in-person enrollment assistance themselves.
“As the newest Navigator grantee in Michigan, we’re ready to answer questions and make sure every consumer can pick the best plan for their needs and budget,” said Garden Cities Mayor Randy Walker. “We’re working around the clock to ensure every Michigander knows about their options for quality, affordable coverage under the Affordable Care Act.”
Additionally, the press conference highlighted that financial help is available to help lower Michigander’s premiums. In fact, during the last enrollment period, 78 percent of Michiganders who enrolled through the Health Insurance Marketplace received financial help to lower their premiums by an average of $270 per month, bringing the average monthly premium to just $130 per month.
For the third open enrollment period, consumers who choose to not enroll in some kind of coverage by Jan. 31, 2016 - through an employer-provided plan, the Marketplace, or Medicaid or CHIP - could face a fine of $695 or 2.5 percent of their income per person – whichever is more. The fine will increase each year, making more and more costly to delay complying with the law – on top of having to pay for health service without coverage during the year.
To schedule an appointment with an enrollment assister, like ACCESS, Michiganders can visit www.getcoveredamerica.org/connector to search by ZIP code and find someone in their community who will meet with them for free.
Grounded in a grassroots commitment to serving our community, ACCESS has a 44-year history of providing health, education, employment and social services. An Arab American nonprofit of excellence, ACCESS empowers communities in Southeast Michigan to improve their economic, social and cultural well-being and extends this mission nationally through advocacy, arts, culture and philanthropy.