Affordable Care Act help now available

Published 2:36 pm Thursday, December 24, 2015

A federally-certified Affordable Care Act Navigator will be available at the Tyrrell County Public Library and the Kill Devil Hills Public Library once weekly until late January to aid enrollees or explore health insurance options.

The Affordable Care Act Health Insurance Marketplace is reporting the highest volume yet of consumers enrolling in new plans or renewing existing ones, an Access East media release states.

The open enrollment period for those wishing to apply for ACA health insurance or renew an existing plan ends on Jan. 31. Open Enrollment provides not only the opportunity to gain access to health care, but also a chance to avoid paying a fine at tax time.

Adults without health insurance who would otherwise qualify for ACA insurance, but are not enrolled in a plan by Jan. 31, may face a fine of $695 per adult or 2.5% of their yearly income, whichever is greater. The penalty for children who are not covered is $347.50 per child. The fine goes up each year, making it increasingly costly to delay complying with the law.

As of June, nearly 92 percent of the 460,000 North Carolinians enrolled in coverage through the Marketplace received financial assistance to help pay for their insurance. The average cost of a plan for consumers receiving financial assistance is $95 per month, the media release states. Consumers can determine how much financial assistance they qualify for by using the Get Covered Calculator tool at

Plan enrollment can be confusing, especially for potential enrollees who have gone a long time without health insurance. Access East, a Greenville-based nonprofit organization, has an ACA Navigators program that provides local access to certified marketplace navigators who are available for free, in-person enrollment assistance. Access East primarily coordinates patient-focused, provider-driven health care for Medicaid recipients and uninsured populations across 27 eastern North Carolina counties.

To help consumers meet the Jan. 31 deadline, an Access East navigator will be on-site at the Tyrrell County Public Library on Tuesdays, Dec. 22 – Jan. 26 and at the Kill Devil Hills Public Library on Fridays, Dec. 18–Jan. 29 (except Christmas and New Year’s Day) from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at each location.

Appointments may be made online at, or by calling 252-717-1136. Appointments are encouraged, but not required.