For the Weekly Record Herald
TROY — On Nov. 1, the open enrollment period begins for those needing to enroll, re-enroll or change their current health coverage. Officials at Health Partners Free Clinic (HPFC) are again offering free help to individuals and families maneuvering through the challenging online system at HealthCare.gov.
Open Enrollment allows citizens too young for Medicare coverage to apply for, or change, insurance plans regardless of medical insurability. The enrollment period ends on Jan. 31, 2017.
The free service is available to anyone, not just clinic patients.
In 2013, the Affordable Care Act (most commonly referred to as Obamacare) directed all residents to obtain health insurance or face fines at tax filing time.
For the fourth year, the clinic is providing for the services of Stephanie Morris, an in-house Federally Certified Marketplace Navigator. By appointment, Morris is available to inform residents of their health care options offered through the Marketplace.
From explaining the availability of tax credits (premium assistance based on family income), how they are calculated and how monthly premiums are not the only important parts of a plan. Determining their own medical needs and access to that care should be paramount for those scrutinizing their options, Morris said.
Regarding the upcoming presidential election, Morris said people should review their health care plans regardless of who is elected. She noted that if changes in the ACA plan do occur under a new administration, it would not be a quick process and people would need to have their medical plans in place for that duration.
HPFC Executive Director Justin Coby said there was going to be a shift in the clinic’s daily operations and patient profile. When Morris joined the clinic it allowed them to reach out to the community helping both patients and non-patients alike.
Funded through a federal grant that has been filtered down from the Ohio Association of Food Banks and the Ohio Association of Free Clinics, the Navigator Program has become one the most useful tools operating under the ACA, according to clinic officials.
To schedule an appointment, call Morris at the clinic at (937) 332-0894, Ext. 207, during normal business hours.