Don’t forget that there are just a few days left to sign up for health insurance for 2016 through the insurance exchange at Healthcare.gov. Sunday, January 31 is the last day to enroll and CAP staff will help walk you through the process if you need help.
To enroll after January 31, you’d have to purchase a plan from somewhere other than the exchange, qualify for Medicaid, or else have a non-health-related “qualifying life event” such as losing a job or being dropped from a partner’s plan (see a list of qualifying events here. Otherwise, the exchange—and its generous discounts on premiums—won’t be open to you again until November to sign up for coverage that would start in 2017.
Pivot’s Public workshop this Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Pivot, 209 SW 4th Ave., is an opportunity to connect with CAP staff and get all your questions answered about the process. There will also be refreshments and raffle prizes for anyone who participates.
If you can’t make it to Pivot, the Coalition for Community Health Clinics will be holding a similar enrollment fair from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. the same day at 3920 N. Kearby Ave.
You can also call Cascade AIDS Project to speak to CAP’s health insurance coordinators. Call Michael Lee Howard at 503-278-3878 or Nashoba Temperly at 503-278-3877 any time during business hours, Monday through Friday. Even after the health exchange enrollment period has closed, they’ll still be here to help you find alternative ways of getting health insurance or see whether you qualify for free healthcare through Medicaid/Oregon Health Plan.
It can’t be stressed enough how how much it benefits you to carry health insurance, both financially and for your health. Even minor unexpected injuries or emergency events—such as a broken arm, a minor car accident or appendicitis—can run up medical bills in the tens of thousands of dollars, leading to medical debt you’ll have to pay off if you’re uninsured. Having health insurance also enables you to receive preventative health care for free and can pay for otherwise-expensive medications like PrEP.
Fortunately the health insurance exchange limits premiums to what you are able to pay based on your income, and you may discover that you qualify for free health care through Oregon Health Plan. If you’re not sure how to navigate the process, the best way you can find out how this works for you is to talk to someone, so come in Saturday!