KINGSPORT, Tenn. - A recently obtained grant will enable Wellmont Health System to work with residents in Northeast Tennessee so they receive insurance from the federal healthcare exchange.
Wellmont has used part of the grant from the Tennessee Hospital Association to hire eligibility specialists. These co-workers will help residents navigate their insurance options and understand the requirements of the Affordable Care Act. The specialists are not are not certified to sign up people for insurance but will provide valuable education that can help residents make informed decisions.
People can make an appointment with a Wellmont eligibility specialist by calling 1-877-421-0304 from 8:30 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday through Friday or emailing FPSTEAM@wellmont.org.
"Federal healthcare reform has been sweeping in mandated changes, one of which is people's access to insurance," said Todd Norris, Wellmont's senior vice president for system advancement. "We want our fellow residents in this region to remember during this important period that we are here to help as they secure insurance through the exchange."
The federal health insurance marketplace is a program of the Affordable Care Act to give people across the United States access to coverage. The exchanges help individuals shop for, select and enroll in qualified health plans, while enabling eligible people to receive tax credits and cost-sharing reductions. The exchanges can also assist people in joining other programs, such as Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program.
Enrollment in the marketplace began Oct. 1 and will continue until March 31. Sign up is available at www.healthcare.gov. People can also contact the health insurance marketplace call center around the clock at 1-800-318-2596.
Many organizations, most namely Appalachian Mountain Project Access, are collaborating to help people in the region secure the insurance coverage they need.
Wellmont has identified thousands of patients who might be eligible to receive insurance through the marketplace. The health system plans to use other funds in the grant to develop and print a communication package that includes education materials from the hospital association and federal government.
"We are focused on ensuring people have access to health insurance because it will empower them to take better care of their health," Norris said. "When people take care of their health proactively and when a need arises, their chances of a successful outcome and long-term health increase considerably. That's a desirable result not only for them but the community at large, and we are pleased to join other partners in the region in assisting people in this important endeavor."