KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- Four weeks from Monday will be the deadline for most Americans to have health insurance or pay a penalty at tax time next year. If you're going to get coverage, insurance agents, navigators and certified application counselors encourage you to get help from them to avoid some pitfalls.
Sarah Thornton is getting the pitch to buy health insurance as she sits in a waiting room at the Wyandotte County Health Department. Thornton is uninsured and unenthusiastic about the health care law.
"You have to have insurance or you'll get fined which I think it is kind of crazy, but it is what it is," said Thornton.
The goal of Enroll Wyandotte is to encourage people to get coverage, and also help them get it by the March 31 deadline. Certified application counselors are at the health department every weekday.
"It can be pretty complicated and we come into snags depending upon people's household situations and things so we are here able to help," said Molly Moffett, one of the counselors.
Health insurance agents also want to help. Tom Morrill, president of the Greater Kansas City Association of Health Underwriters, tells people to first look at the income chart at healthcare.gov. If you qualify for a subsidy there, definitely buy there. But what should you do if you're not getting a subsidy?
"Then there's really no reason to go to the exchange because we actually have more choices from carriers including Humana, United Health Care and Assurant that are not on the federal exchange," said Morrill.
In the metro, only Blue Cross Blue Shield and Coventry are on the exchange. And in the St. Joseph area, only Blue Cross is.
Morrill also says the plans offered on the exchange have limited networks of doctors and hospitals.
"You have to be careful and really look at the network, and you must look up your doctor and your hospital," said Morrill.
And picking a plan isn't enough. You have to pay for it by the day the plan goes into effect or you won't have coverage.
To find an insurance agent that is certified by the Federal Government to sell plans both off and on healthcare.gov, CLICK HERE.
Then, type in your zip, select a zip code radius of at least 10 miles, and then select both Kansas and Missouri in the section "Certified to Sell Health Insurance Exchange Marketplace Coverage".
To find a navigator or counselor to help you purchase a plan, click on Healthcare.gov.
Open enrollment events that were held in early March included:
TUESDAY, MARCH 4:
Paola Health Partnership Clinic
Elizabeth Layton Center
25955 W. 327th St.
Paola, KS 66071
THURSDAY, MARCH 6:
JCDHE of Mission
6000 Lamar Ave., Suite #140
Mission, KS 66202
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 5:
JCDHE of Olathe
11875 S Sunset Dr #300
Olathe, KS 66061
FRIDAY, MARCH 7:
Central Resource Library
9875 W 87th St.
Overland Park, KS 66212
What to Bring:
- Active email address and its password
- For everyone in the household:
- Social Security numbers
- Income information (W-2s, pay stubs, self-employment records, etc.)
- Immigration documents
- Any information about employer-offered health insurance