insuranceIf you don’t have health insurance and want it, now could be the time to sign up. A health insurance specialist is coming to Petersburg and Wrangell to help residents sign up for the federally subsidized Health Insurance Marketplace.

Accumulation period, capitation, maximum allowable. . . health insurance terminology can be a little intimidating.

Andrea Thomas is SEARHC Outreach and Enrollment Manager. She’s working through a grant with the Alaska Primary Care Association. She is what’s called a “Trained Navigator.” She educates people throughout Southeast on the Health Insurance Marketplace program and helps them get enrolled.

“Insurance has all these, this terminology which makes it really confusing,” Thomas says. “That’s why it’s so great to have presentations to explain things.”

Health Insurance Marketplace is part of the Affordable Care Act that became law in 2010.

“The Health Insurance Marketplace is the place where people can go to get assistance paying for their health insurance,” Thomas says. “It’s the only place to get assistance paying for your monthly premiums and lower out of pocket expenses like deductibles.”

Thomas says the program is geared to those who do not already have insurance. If you have insurance through work, Medicare, Medicaid or Veterans benefits, you’re already taken care. She says this is ideal for people who don’t have it through work, are self-employed and for students.

“It’s people that make between 100 and 400 percent federal poverty level,” Thomas says. “Well, what does that mean? So, if you’re a single person, if you make between $14,580 and $58,320 and actually at that high end you might not be able to get much assistance but it’s for people that are in that certain income level.”

Getting enrolled in health insurance is important if you don’t have it yet. Citizens will have to pay tax penalties if they don’t have it this calendar year.

Even though the federal program had been in the news for on-line glitches in the beginning, Thomas says all that’s all been fixed.

“The website works great now,” Thomas says. “There’s no problem at all. It works really great this year.”

There is background information needed in order to apply. If you’re applying on-line, people need to have a working e-mail address, income information, and all information for family members who file taxes together, like birth dates and social security numbers.

Thomas says she is available for individual appointments in person while she’s here. But people don’t have to meet with her to get help. She says they can get help in a number of ways.

“People can call the toll free number through the Marketplace which is 24-7, which is great for fishermen who are way out there and want to call at two in the morning, they can do that,” Thomas says. “And also if people are pretty computer savvy they can do it themselves on-line. They can also get assistance from myself when I’m there individually or actually over the phone at any time they can call.”

Thomas will be in Petersburg December 15-16.

She will be giving a presentation at the Petersburg Public Library on Dec. 15 from 6:00-7:00 p.m. Then she will hold a group enrollment on Dec. 16 from 5:30-7:30 p.m.

Thomas will be in Wrangell December 17-18 holding sessions at the public library. On Dec. 17 from 7:15 to 8:15 she will hold a presentation followed by an open enrollment until 9:00 p.m. She will be available for in-person assistance on the Dec. 18 from 1:00-3:00 p.m.

Thomas can be reached by phone at (907) 966-8883 or (907) 752-3336.

The deadline to enroll is February 15.