New Options for Health Care Coverage
The health reform bill called the Affordable Care Act (ACA) passed by Congress in 2010 has many new benefits. The new law will be phased in through 2014 and beyond. There are benefits starting in 2010 which will help many West Virginians.
Have you been denied health coverage because you have heart disease, cancer or some other chronic condition? People with chronic illnesses, who cannot find affordable coverage in the private market, now have access to two insurance plans. One is the new Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan created by the ACA and available at www.pcip.gov or 866-717-5826. The other is AccessWV, created by 2004 state legislation, and housed within the West Virginia Insurance Commission. Depending on their income, West Virginians may even be eligible for a subsidy to pay part of their premium. To find out more go to www.accesswv.org or call 1-866-445-8491.
Are you a young adult up to age 26 who does not have coverage? You now have the option to stay on your parents’ health insurance plan up to age 26. You can be married, working and/or living in another state and still stay on your parents’ health plan. If your parents have coverage through the West Virginia Public Employees Insurance Plan, the new benefit will be available on July 1, 2011. For other plans, you will be eligible at the beginning of the new plan year. Talk to your parents and their health plan administrator to get more details.
Do you have a child who does not have health coverage? Depending on your income, your child is eligible for Medicaid or the West Virginia Children’s Health Insurance Program. It’s easy to apply. Go to www.wvchip.org to find a mail-in application or call 1-877-WVA-CHIP for more information. If you are a family of three and earn less than $45,775 per year your child is eligible. Even if you are not sure if your child is eligible, go ahead and apply; some expenses may be deducted from your income and eligibility may increase in the future.
What if you can’t afford to buy coverage under the options available now? You may have to wait until 2014 when many new options go into effect. A new coalition helping to implement health reform in West Virginia will be advertising and promoting the new coverage options. If you want to help get more West Virginians covered, check out www.wvahc.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org to get involved.