Governor Terry McAuliffe announced Monday that more than 4,000 Virginians received help with Federal Market applications during the first two weeks of the open enrollment period, and thousands more have visited the state’s Cover Virginia website to get information about health coverage.
During a visit to the Legal Aid Society of Roanoke Valley, Governor McAuliffe praised enrollment assisters for their work to help Virginians make the best health care choices for themselves and their families.
“I’m here today to thank the men and women across Virginia who are working hard to help Virginians sign up for health insurance during this year’s open enrollment period for the Federal Marketplace,” Governor McAuliffe said. “We have boots on the ground this year to make sure Virginians find the best insurance options at the best price. And we’re just getting started.”
During the first sign-up period, 216,000 Virginians obtained insurance on the Marketplace, but few obtained in-person assistance with the process. Another 300,000 state residents who qualify for tax credits for insurance did not participate. Governor McAuliffe has set a goal to enroll up to 160,000 Virginians during the current sign-up period, which is scheduled to continue through February 15, 2015.
Virginia was awarded a $9.3 million grant this year by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services that is paying for more than 100 new enrollment assisters offering free in-person assistance in their communities to individuals signing up for insurance on the Marketplace. Virginians may sign up directly at healthcare.gov for insurance, but the availability of in-person assistance improves the chances that they will obtain the most appropriate coverage option.
The assisters are being hired through the Virginia Community Healthcare Association’s network of health centers and through the Virginia Poverty Law Center’s Enroll Virginia initiative. During the first two weeks of enrollment, 1,754 people got help from assisters through Enroll Virginia. Six thousand other Virginians have been contacted through 100 education and outreach events held across the state so far at health fairs, food distribution centers and local markets. The Virginia Community Healthcare Association reports its assisters have helped an additional 2,300 people with enrollment questions, contacted another 2,000 and held 100 outreach events.
Governor McAuliffe also noted that enrollment in the children’s insurance program, Family Access to Medical Insurance Security or FAMIS, has increased by 4,000 since September 1. He praised outreach workers with the Virginia Health Care Foundation for helping families to submit applications for 1,257 children during that period.
During his visit in Roanoke, Governor McAuliffe recognized the work of several enrollment assisters, including Navigator Patrick Kelly. The Governor met with Kara Joyce, a small business owner who was renewing the health plan she purchased on the Marketplace last year. Joyce credited Kelly for helping her find affordable insurance that covers prescription drugs, enabling her to continue to own her own business.
Virginia began airing radio ads last week encouraging individuals to visit the Department of Medical Assistance Services’coverva.org website. TV ads are scheduled to begin airing in January.
Before open enrollment began, the website averaged 591 visitors daily. Recently, the website has experienced record-setting traffic, including 5,127 visitors on December 3, the most in a single day in the history of Cover Virginia.
During Assister Appreciation Week, the Cover Virginia Facebook page will feature videos of assisters and their achievements.