Library hosts health care enrollment assistance amid confusion

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COLUMBIA - Daniel Boone County Regional Library will host health care insurance enrollment assistance every Saturday for the next six weeks. Five local agencies with trained staff will help people "review eligibility, compare options and enroll in plans."

"We get a lot of questions about it - 'Wasn't that repealed?' - that kind of thing, especially in the current climate," said Scott Minea, a program manager at the Primaris Foundation.

He said the short enrollment period and political climate have led to some confusion regarding the Affordable Care Act.

"There's a lot of misinformation out there and a lot of misunderstanding about how the political or legal processes work, but essentially the Affordable Care Act is here for 2018," he said.

The enrollment period for the marketplace begins Wednesday and ends Dec. 15, marking the shortest enrollment period since the Affordable Care Act began.

The Primaris Foundation, one of the five local agencies assisting, will lead the first enrollment event, "Rock Enrollment," Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Insurance counselors at the Primaris Foundation, alongside staff from the Family Health Center, Spectrum Health Care, Central Missouri Area Agency on Aging and Central Missouri Community Action, will be working to not only help people enroll, but also increase awareness regarding health insurance.

"It's about expanding coverage to people who may not know about it or who may not have ever had health insurance before," Minea said. "The barrier isn't always affording it, it's being aware of the need for it."

Counselors at Saturday's event will also help those eligible for medicare register during its enrollment period, which ends on Dec. 17. 

Carol Beahan, the executive director for the Primaris Foundation, said, while counselors will help people find a plan, they will not make any decisions for them.

"The counselors don't do that, the person who is seeking the help will be the one to make that final decision based on the information they have, so they can make an informed decision," Beahan said.

Minea said he has one goal for Saturday's event. 

"It's basically about connecting consumers will healthcare and ensuring they can make the best health care decision in the confusing healthcare world," Minea said.

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