Press release from Pisgah Legal Services:
Pisgah Legal Services (PLS), a nonprofit that provides free, civil legal aid in Western North Carolina, recently launched a targeted campaign to reach people recently unemployed due to COVID-19 who may have also lost their health insurance. Anyone who has experienced a qualifying life event in the past 60 days, including job loss, may qualify for Affordable Care Act (ACA) insurance. Pisgah Legal Services offers free assistance and free information to help understand options for affordable health insurance. To find out more or to make an appointment, visit pisgahlegal.org/aca or call 828-210-3404.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has left many people without jobs and with that, health insurance,” said Jim Barrett, Executive Director for Pisgah Legal Services. “Many of these people may qualify to file for health insurance through Special Enrollment and it’s our goal to help them understand their options.”
As recently as early May, NC had surpassed the one million mark for individual unemployment insurance benefit claims, as noted on the N.C. Division of Employment website. Almost one-quarter, or 20.3 percent of the 4.97 million North Carolinians listed in the state’s workforce as of mid-March have filed an unemployment insurance claim. “The need is great and will likely grow,” notes Barrett. “Pisgah Legal wants to make sure that no one misses health care coverage as a result of recent job loss.”
When qualifying for a special enrollment period, people do not have to wait until November for Open Enrollment; they can take advantage of options now. One Asheville resident, Christina, lost her job in March and with it, her insurance. She suffers from heart disease and without insurance, was unsure how she would afford her medicines. By working with Pisgah Legal Services, she was able to get a Blue Cross Blue Shield plan for less than $17/month. “Pisgah Legal took care of everything for me,” said Christina. She hopes others take advantage of this valuable, free service.
Pisgah Legal Services works with organizations in WNC to provide these services across the region. These organizations include: Blue Ridge Community Health Services, Council on Aging of Buncombe County, Legal Aid or North Carolina, Mountain Projects, Inc., and, Western Carolina Medical Society.