CUMBERLAND, Md. (WDVM) – While open enrollment for health insurance began on November 1, many might not know what they are entitled to or whether they can receive financial assistance to reduce premium costs. A health education center in Cumberland, Md., Aims to help people in western Maryland get coverage.
The past 18 months have shown us the importance of health insurance. For many, there can be confusion as to what they are entitled to or the cost. The Area Health Education Center, or AHEC, West is a nonprofit organization in West Maryland that provides such answers.
David Stewart is the director of the health insurance program at AHEC West, which cannot stress enough how important it is to residents of West Maryland and the rest of the state. He explained that there are common misconceptions or unknowns when people work with AHEC West to enroll in health insurance.
“The mission of AHEC is to improve access to health care and improve the quality of health care and to help people understand their health insurance options and to help people s ‘register,’ said Stewart. “Now, what most people don’t understand is that there is financial help to lower the cost of the premium. “
Stewart explained that one of the most important parts of health insurance is that it comes with a benefit called the maximum amount. A maximum amount is a limit to the amount you can owe for medical expenses, such as a hospital stay or surgery. Stewart explained that if you choose to go without health insurance, you agree to pay for every expense you incur, which means if you have an emergency there is no limit to what you may owe. .
“Health insurance has you covered and it’s about getting the health care you need,” said Stewart. “But it’s also about limiting your financial exposure.
“In an emergency, maybe they can get a Bronze plan for $ 3-4 a month. I promise you most people spend more on coffee in a month.
David Stewart explaining the importance of investing in your health care coverage.
Along with their other health education programs, AHEC West provides navigators to help consumers better understand the health insurance field, particularly with Maryland Health Connection, which is part of the Affordable Care Act. AHEC West is working with Maryland Health Connection to reduce rates for uninsured Marylanders in Washington, Allegany and Garrett counties.
Stewart also explained that many residents are unaware that they can receive financial assistance for their health insurance and that there is additional assistance for young adults. He explained that over the past year, new increased financial support has been introduced through the Young Adult Grant. For this upcoming health care enrollment year, adults between the ages of 18 and 34 will be entitled to more financial health benefits than in the past.
He also pointed out that all services provided by AHEC West are free and that there is no obligation for residents to pay for services and consultations. Stewart says the first step to getting health insurance is to call AHEC West to see exactly what your options are.
“All of our services are free. Most people make the mistake of assuming that they won’t get any financial help to purchase insurance and they just aren’t,” said Stewart.
Carol Morgan is a Navigator at AHEC West and guides residents through their options and the registration process. She thinks everyone, especially young people, should have some sort of health insurance.
“We are there to help them and give them information. So it’s worth the call, ”Morgan said.
She stressed that health insurance is not a one-size-fits-all approach. She explained that coverage may vary depending on their demographics such as age, location and income.
“You can’t say ‘Well my neighbor or my friend told me this’ because every request is unique to that person. So what the cost for one person may not be the same for another, ”Morgan pointed out.
Although AHEC West does not currently offer in-person appointments, they are available for phone or video calls and offer weekend and evening appointments.
For more information, please visit their website or call (888) 202-0212.