Local organization holding health care enrollment-fest

HAMPTON, Va. (WAVY) –  The group “Celebrate Healthcare” is hosting a huge enrollment-fest this weekend in Hampton.

The period to sign up under the Affordable Care Act opened November 1 and runs until December 15.

Health care officials say it’s important to sign up before it’s too late. In past years, people had until January to enroll under the Affordable Care Act, but this year the Trump administration cut the window in half, cut advertising and dialed back on counselors who help people navigate the process.

“This is the last week. If you wait until the last minute, you don’t know what’s going to happen,” said Celebrate Healthcare president Gaylene Kanoyton.

Kanoyton says the group has hosted the event since 2014 and they’re helping to get people enrolled because navigating the website can be difficult.

“Sometimes if you go on a computer, it can be confusing. We have agents and navigators here that will be able to give face to face advice and get you enrolled,” she said.

 

Last year, more than eight million Americans enrolled, according to the Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services, and this year more than three and a half million registered.

More than 150,000 of them Virginians.

Health care officials say those signing up in Hampton Roads will see fewer choices and higher premiums this year, but subsidies should help offset that cost for those who qualify.

To qualify for a subsidy, you must earn a certain income per year. Around 80 percent of those who are already enrolled should still be eligible.

Previous users will be automatically re-enrolled, but health care officials suggest going online to look at all the plans this year.  If you do not buy insurance you may have to pay a penalty.

Before enrolling, people should have information on their household size, home mailing address, social security numbers, and W-2 forms.

If you sign-up by yourself on the healthcare.gov website, it will only let you enroll Monday through Saturdays. Maintenance work will be done on Sunday.

The health fest will be at the Hampton Roads Convention Center on Coliseum Drive in Hampton. It goes from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. through 5 p.m. on Saturday and 11 a.m. through 5 p.m. on Sunday.

Governor Terry McAuliffe is expected to be at the three-day event Saturday to urge people to sign up for coverage.