Enrolling in Health Insurance is Easy!

Alisha Keezer is MLA’s health insurance Navigator. MLA photo.

If you look back at the past four years, one thing is certain: a lot has changed since the first open enrollment for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2013! The enrollment application is shorter; the Marketplace website has changed significantly; and lots of families have gained health insurance. Throughout the years, however, one thing has remained the same: you have always had the opportunity to get help enrolling from someone who knows the process. Health insurance “Navigators” have helped many people understand the process of gaining and retaining affordable health insurance.  

 The Maine Lobstermen’s Association (MLA) has been assisting lobstermen with health insurance enrollment since November, 2013, when the Health Insurance Marketplace was launched. MLA Navigators make themselves available for phone consultations during the evening hours or on weekends when lobstermen are at home. For some, this is the first time they have had health insurance. MLA Navigators take the time to walk them through the process; no one will be rushed.   

Open enrollment for 2017 Health Insurance Marketplace started on November 1, and continues through January 31, 2017. Coverage, however, doesn’t start immediately. 

  • If you sign up between Nov. 1, 2016, and Dec. 15, 2016, your coverage will start Jan. 1, 2017. 
  • If you sign up between Dec. 16, 2016, and Jan. 15, 2017, your coverage will start Feb. 1, 2017. 
  • If you sign up between Jan. 16 and Jan. 31, 2017, your coverage will start March 1, 2017. 

Enrollment Process 

 MLA’s Navigators pride themselves on making enrollment in health coverage easy. Our enrollment approach is a multi-step process: 

During the first interaction, our Navigators provide basic information about the Health Insurance Marketplace, explain the consumer’s responsibility in choosing a health insurance plan, walk through the Health Insurance Marketplace window shopping tool and answer questions. This can be done simply by calling the MLA office during open enrollment.  

The window shopping tool allows you to preview and compare 2017 health insurance plan coverage and pricing before you apply. This allows you to see the benefits of each plan and what it covers. MLA Navigators can help you compare plans based on what’s important to you, choosing the combination of price and coverage that best fits your needs and budget.  

The marketplace has new plans and prices every year, so it is worthwhile to work with an MLA Navigators to review your options each year. If you haven’t been successful in finding a good health insurance plan in the past, there may be new options this year that work better for you. If you already have health insurance, a Navigator can make sure the plan you have is still the best fit for you using the window shopping tool. 

Already have a 2016 Marketplace plan? This is the time to make changes to your plan.  

It’s still important to compare plans and prices for 2017. Our Navigators can help you compare 2017 health plans and prices against your current coverage, update your application with any household or income changes, and enroll in a plan. New and more affordable health plans may be available this year, so don’t miss out on savings for 2017. Your 2016 plan must send you a notice of any changes it will make for 2017. Make sure to open this mail and see what it means for you.  

After that, the Navigator will provide the consumer with a packet of information including eligibility determination and then schedule an enrollment appointment either face to face or through remote computer access.  

The MLA offers in-person appointments through remote computer access (using gotomeeting). This has allowed us to overcome many of the challenges posed by the geography of the coast and to enroll consumers at times which are convenient for them. Gotomeeting is a screen-share program that is accessed by sending a web link to your email address. After completing the application, you will select a plan, and a Navigator will make sure that you understand the steps to take following your enrollment.  

Once the enrollment appointment is over, the Navigator will compile all the necessary documents for your health insurance plan and other useful handouts to mail to you.  Once, enrolled MLA Navigators will follow up with you during the year, so you have the support you need to stay covered.  

 The Navigator will do follow-up phone calls to ensure consumers understand the policy and how to make payments and update their Health Insurance Marketplace account. They also make sure that consumers are taking advantage of their health insurance services. 

 If you have questions about your options, you can meet one-on-one for free with one of the MLA Navigators. Please contact the MLA at 207-967-4555 or email alisha@mainelobstermen.org.