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Health insurance renewal period starts Nov. 15 

At the end of its first year, the Affordable Care Act enabled 10 million Americans to get health insurance, according to WhiteHouse.gov. Open enrollment for 2014 went from Oct. 1, 2013, to March 31. This year, those people already enrolled in health insurance can renew their coverage either through CoveredCa.com or through their insurance agents. The renewable period is Nov. 15 through Dec. 15 for those looking to start on Jan. 1. For those not already enrolled in health insurance or wishing to change plans, open enrollment is Nov. 15 through Feb. 15, 2015.

Rick Goree insurance agent

Rick Goree

State Farm agent Rick Goree says it is important for families to renew their coverage by Dec. 15 to ensure there’s not lapse in coverage. If the Dec. 15 deadline is missed, the next start date is Feb. 1.

State Farm agent Steve Weber says the biggest change in the Act is that coverage only begins on the first of the month. For 2014, coverage could start on the first or 15th.

Hinds said that plans in the CoveredCA exchange have gone up between 15 and 20 percent, which is less than she was expecting — she was expecting the increase to be in the mid-double digits. During the renewal period, Goree said people will have the opportunity to review their plans, change plans or not renew their insurance. Of course, health insurance is mandatory, so those who opt to not have insurance will be faced with a penalty fee based on their tax return.

Steve Weber insurance agent

Steve Weber

Weber said it looks like it’s going to be a busy couple of months and recommends that people don’t wait to list minute, “because everyone will be busy.” He also said that many people don’t realize they don’t have to go through CoveredCa.com. If a person does not qualify for a subsidy, or just doesn’t want to be part of CoveredCA, it may not be the best option. Plans outside of CoveredCA can offer a wider choice of available doctors. Weber and Goree both said that having the plans and options explained is important.

“It’s not a complicated decision,” Goree said. “The important thing is having someone explain it.”

Twin Cities Community Hospital will offer eight free informational seminars that will help guide individuals through the enrollment process, as well as fixing last year’s problems. All seminars will be held in the hospital’s Founders’ Pavilion in the Morgan Conference Center Room at 1220 Las Tablas Road in Templeton.

“So many members of our community still have questions, concerns or changes regarding their current health insurance plan, or need to enroll into an ACA compliant health insurance plan,” Twin Cities CEO Mark Lisa said.

Sarah Hinds HFG Coastal Insurance

Sarah Hinds

Twin Cities will have local taxation experts and insurance agents from to lead the seminars. Each event will include a 10- to 15-minute presentation about the Affordable Care Act followed by an open format question and answer period. The seminars are a partnership between North County HELP — Health Enrollment by Licensed Professionals — and Twin Cities. North County HELP was started by Dee Hinds and Sarah Hinds of HFG Coastal Insurance to bring insurance agents together to help the people or North County.

“We’re just getting together to get out accurate information about open enrollment,” said Sarah Hinds said. “This gives the public an actual person to reach after open enrollment if there are problems. People have a lot of questions.”

People getting a subsidy need to re-quote their plans because the calculation on how much subsidy a person gets changes yearly, she said. “So the plan that they are currently on may not be the best plan for them in 2015.”

She said people who want to enroll or make changes, there will be agents available at the seminars to assist them.

The schedule of seminars:

  • Saturday, Nov. 15 from 2 to 4 p.m.
  • Tuesday, Nov. 18 from 5:30 to 7 p.m.
  • Saturday, Dec. 6 from 10 a.m. to noon
  • Tuesday, Dec. 9 from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Saturday, Jan. 17, 2015, from 10 a.m. to noon
  • Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2015, from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Saturday, Feb. 7, 2015, from 10 a.m. to noon
  • Saturday, Feb. 14, 2015, from 10 a.m. to noon

Seating for the free seminars is limited and attendees are encouraged to call (800) 483-6387 in advance to reserve a space.

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