Open enrollment for the Health Insurance Marketplace is now underway, and Tuesday marked the first of several community enrollment events in Savannah where you can get free help signing up.
Tuesday’s event took place at the Bull Street Library and drew more interest than expected. A positive sign, according to organizers.
“I think this just means that there's a lot of folks out there that need help and they want personal help,” said Eva Elmer, the campaign manager for the Campaign for Healthy Kids.
That was the goal of the event: to offer face-to-face assistance to people enrolling for coverage under the Affordable Care Act.
Organizers say this kind of in-person experience is important, especially for people who don't have computer access.
"And by far that is the most effective way to get somebody enrolled, answer their questions, and make them feel better about at least having the knowledge they need,” Elmer said.
Dozens came out to enroll themselves or to enroll their children in the Medicaid or Peach Care for Kids programs.
"It's about their well-being, and I love my kids to death, so making sure they're okay is my number-one priority,” said Brittany Byrd, who signed up for insurance for her two children.
Earl Timmons also saw one of the counselors and enrolled for coverage at the event.
“It was real nice for them to do it again, because everybody doesn’t have insurance," he said.
Jaleesa Quarterman, 26, signed up for herself and her 1-year-old son Tuesday, and she says having the help of counselors, free-of-charge, was a blessing.
"This is a sign from God, I think,” said Quarterman. “I'm blessed by these people who are just helping us out, because I'm young and a single mom just doing things on my own."
If you're planning on enrolling but didn't make it to Tuesday’s event, there will be others. Community workshops are planned for the second Tuesday in December and January as well.
And organizers say you shouldn't be afraid to ask questions and get help, because choosing the right plan requires research.
"A lot of times people who are enrolling for the first time may look at a plan based on the premium, but it may not be what best covers them and their family. So it is very overwhelming, but there are a lot of resources available, and that is why we're out here. We want to help people understand better the choices made available to them and help them choose wisely,” said Laura Morgan, director of social programs at Memorial Hospital.
If you're enrolling your children for Medicaid or Peach Care for Kids, that requires a separate application than your personal application through the Healthcare.gov website. A number of children in Georgia were not covered last year because of that confusion.
Open enrollment started on Nov. 1 and will end on Jan. 31. You will need to sign up for coverage by Dec. 15 to have healthcare beginning on Jan. 1.
You can contact staff from Memorial University Medical Center for questions about enrollment at 912.350.0317.
You can also visit the Chatham Safety Net Planning Council’s website for local resources and for enrollment assistance or contact Campaign Manager Eva Elmer at 912.661.3040.
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