ACA health insurance enrollment extended through Aug. 15

Press release from Pisgah Legal Services: is open through August 15 thanks to an extension of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) Special Enrollment Period, and thanks to new federal subsidies from the American Rescue Plan monthly premiums for many will be reduced or even eliminated.

On average, premiums will decrease by $50 per month. Premium payments are calculated at the benchmark of 8.5% of household income.  People with income below 150% of the poverty line (about $19,000 for a single person, $25,800 for a couple, and $39,000 for a family of four) will pay no premiums for some plans, including Silver plans with cost sharing reductions.

Pisgah Legal Services (PLS), and its Enrollment Partners of WNC, are again offering free assistance helping people in the 18-county mountain region review their options and sign up for ACA health insurance.

“This extension of August 15 for enrollment through is very good news for people in need of health insurance, especially with so many having lost coverage during the pandemic,” said Jim Barrett, Executive Director of Pisgah Legal Services. “Thanks to new provisions in the American Rescue Plan, more people will now qualify for significant savings which means lower and even no-cost plans. We encourage those who have already enrolled – and those who thought this coverage was out of reach – to return to or return to any of the local ACA assister organizations and explore their options. Even if folks didn’t qualify for reduced premiums in the past, they very well may now.”

He continued, “Pisgah Legal Services and its Enrollment Partners of WNC continue to offer free assistance to help people in our mountain region understand their options and sign up.”

Shannon Cornelius, Pisgah Legal’s Health Justice Program Director, says, “Because each person’s situation is different, and the plans and prices vary, we strongly encourage folks to contact us for a free appointment with one of our skilled advisors. Even current enrollees will need to update their applications to get the new subsidies now instead of waiting to get them when filing taxes next year.”

Last year, more than 90 percent of North Carolinians who enrolled for coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace ( received financial assistance to make their plans more affordable. Subsidies are based on household taxable income and may be difficult for consumers to calculate themselves. Pisgah Legal can help with this process and can factor in unemployment benefits if needed. Pisgah Legal can also answer questions about other coverage, such as COBRA, and help people apply for Medicaid and CHIP.

Pisgah Legal and other Enrollment Partners of WNC participating organizations give local residents free, unbiased health insurance information and enrollment assistance in the NC Health Insurance Marketplace. These organizations include: Council on Aging of Buncombe County, Blue Ridge Community Health Services, Legal Aid of North Carolina, Mountain Projects, Inc., Western Carolina Medical Society, and Pisgah Legal Services.

The ACA – also known as “Obamacare” – is the law that ensures access to quality, affordable health insurance on the Health Insurance Marketplace. With these plans, consumers are protected and:

  • Can’t be denied coverage for a pre-existing health condition and can’t be dropped for getting sick;
  • Insurers can’t charge higher premiums to women; and
  • Insurers can’t sell substandard plans that don’t pay for essential health care benefits.
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