Tahlequah Daily Press

Local News

July 11, 2014

Open enrollment closed, but some exceptions exist

NeoHealth counselors explain options

TAHLEQUAH — Open enrollment for government health care may be closed, but NeoHealth is encouraging people to see if they can still apply under special circumstances.

“There is some great coverage options and people don’t know about it,” said Teresa Webster, one of the four NeoHealth certified application counselors trained to help people sign up for government health care.

While open enrollment is closed, Webster said many circumstances changing a person’s status in the system, like getting married, moving, a change income and having or adopting a child, allow a person to enroll outside of the open enrollment period.

She said many parents have come in because their child no longer is covered under SoonerCare and they need to find a cheaper option to add their child to their insurance plan.

Webster also encourages Native Americans to consider signing up for health care to receive coverage at more locations than the Cherokee Nation W.W. Hastings Hospital.

“Most Native Americans I have signed up have not had to pay more than one penny a month to get the doctors they want,” said Webster.

Native Americans can also enroll outside of the open enrollment period.

Webster pointed out some people are scared of the health care website in particular and the Internet in general. The website does often undergo changes.

“Sometimes, we’ll get on in the morning and everything will look different,” said Webster.

She encouraged people who want help enrolling to call and make an appointment with an NeoHealth counselor or to come into the library on Tuesday or Thursday mornings to meet with one.

NeoHealth has advertised its assistance in applying for government health care with brochures placed in a variety of places around the area, including laundry mats and doctor’s offices.

The first thing Webster or any of the other CACs will ask when people make an appointment is if they have already entered any of their information on the site. If so, they will try to use the same information to log in, “for safety’s sake,” otherwise the system may believe someone else is trying to use another person’s information.

“It does repeat things over and over, but it is just so you know what everything is,” said Webster.

After finishing the application, the applicant is given an ID number.

“That’s your golden number,” said Webster.

The website will then take the applicant to the marketplace, where they are shown different options the applicant has for health insurance.

Webster said there are many benefits to getting a plan through the marketplace, including tax credits unavailable with other plans.

“A lot of people are afraid they don’t qualify, but in reality they might qualify for a better plan,” said Webster.

During the closed enrollment period, one physician came to the NeoHealth Tahlequah office to see if she and her children qualified. Webster said because she had just moved, she was able to enroll for a less expensive insurance plan.

NeoHealth will continue to have CACs at the library every Tuesday and Thursday, from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., through July. When the school year begins, locations will be available on the NSU campus and in the Muskogee Library. Open enrollment will begin again on Nov. 15 and runs through Feb. 14.

“We just want to be able to help everyone we can,” said Webster.


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