Group offering health coverage services for Louisiana residents

Published 12:11am Monday, January 6, 2014

FERRIDAY — A collaborative organization aimed at helping Louisiana residents get health coverage will make a stop in Ferriday this week to offer its services.

Louisiana Healthcare Navigators is an association of four area health education centers in Louisiana — north, central, southwest and southeast area health education centers.

The four organizations, along with the federal government, facilitate the health insurance marketplace, which was created through the Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as ObamaCare.

The collaboration provides trained navigators to various parishes throughout Louisiana to help people sign up through the exchange, healthcare.gov.

Navigators review prices and plans with people, much like an insurance agent, but don’t actually sell policies.

The marketplace opened for Louisiana residents Oct. 1.

Open enrollment for the marketplace ends March 31.

Amber Cox with Navigators for a Healthy Louisiana will be at the Concordia Parish Library in Ferriday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday to give a presentation on insurance plans that are set through the marketplace.

The sign-up process on the marketplace, Cox said, takes nearly an hour, so residents hoping to go through the process Thursday should call ahead to schedule an appointment.

To make an appointment, call 1-866-428-4173 or by email at amber@clahec.org.

Cox will discuss insurance plan options, answer any questions and provide help navigating through the marketplace for Louisiana residents.

Cox said she’s been traveling throughout central Louisiana offering the same advice and options since enrollment opened.

“It’s been going pretty good so far as we’re basically going throughout these communities and letting people know that this is happening and there is no turning back now,” Cox said. “Most people think I’m actually selling the health insurance or think they have to pay for it there, which isn’t the case.

“My job is to just help them and educate them throughout the process.”

Obama administration officials estimate that 2.1 million consumers have enrolled so far through the federal and state-run health insurance exchanges that are a central feature of the federal law.

People who signed up on the federal website have until Jan. 10 to pay premiums for coverage retroactive to Jan. 1.

Premiums paid after the deadline will be applied to coverage starting Feb. 1 or later. Consumers have until March 31 to sign up to avoid a federal tax penalty for remaining uninsured. That fine starts at $95 for an individual this year but climbs rapidly, to a minimum of $695 by 2016. There is an additional fine for parents who do not get health insurance for their children.

 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.