Health insurance seekers have limited time to sign up for ACA plans

Published 9:13 am Monday, November 5, 2018

Open enrollment in Affordable Care Act health insurance plans opened this week, and those without health insurance have only a month-and-a-half-long window to sign up.

From Nov. 1 to Dec. 15, those seeking insurance can sign up through their local navigators or at one of several enrollment events held by Greenville-based non-profit Access East throughout the enrollment period.

In Beaufort County, Access East navigator Arden Root will be at Brown Library in Washington every Friday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., according to Frank Rabey, Access East’s communications coordinator. Health care navigators are trained to help people determine which ACA plan bets fits their needs and to help them understand their eligibility for federal subsidies to offset the cost of insurance premiums. Navigators do not receive commissions, regardless of the insurance plan chosen, according to an Access East press release.

Health care has been a topic of intense debate over the past several years, as Congress made a push and failed attempt to repeal the Obama-era Affordable Care Act and replace it with another version. Because of the controversy, many have confusion about the current options offered by ACA.

“ACA insurance still includes all its most popular features, which may be unclear to the public in light of all the recent heated political discussion on health care,” Rabey said.

The plan, in its sixth year, provides the following: no denial of coverage for pre-existing conditions; guaranteed coverage — plans cannot be cancelled if a person on the plan should get sick; substance-abuse and mental health treatment are covered; maternity benefits are included; and financial help with premiums is available to most consumers — in North Carolina, nine out of 10 people receive assistance paying for their ACA plans, according to the press release.

People who do not currently have insurance aren’t the only ones who should be seeking out a health care navigator, according to Rabey. Those who already have ACA plans should be checking in with a navigator to make sure they still have a plan that best fits their needs.

“With all the changes to plans that have taken place, people who are currently enrolled are strongly encouraged to touch base with a certified Navigator or assister to make sure there aren’t better/more affordable plans for them this year versus just letting coverage roll over,” Rabey said.

In addition to Root on location at Brown Library, health insurance seekers or ACA-plan holders can find assistance by visiting the website, and follow the “Find Local Help” link to see a comprehensive list of local Navigators.

Root can be reached at 252-717-1136 or

“At this busy time of year, it’s best for consumers to contact her to make sure she isn’t booked in advance,” Rabey said.


Signing up for ACA

Things to bring:

  • Social Security numbers, or document numbers for legal immigrants;
  • Employer name and phone number;
  • Income information for every member of a household who is working, or who has income and needs coverage;
  • Policy numbers for current health-insurance plans covering all household members.