On May 2, 2014, the Department of Health and Human Services issued guidance announcing that for a limited time only Affordable Care Act (ACA) enrollment would be extended to any COBRA beneficiary regardless of when they elected their COBRA coverage.
The extension comes following concerns that COBRA recipients did not receive timely information informing them of their options for subsidy qualification and enrolling in an ACA plan.
Open enrollment in the Affordable Care Act closed on March 31, 2014; however, COBRA beneficiaries are now eligible to enroll in an ACA plan through July 1, 2014. COBRA stands for the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act – a landmark federal law passed by Congress in 1986 allowing employees to continue enrollment in their group coverage for up to 18 months following their separation of employment.
“COBRA coverage can be prohibitively expensive” says Josh Williams, founder and owner of WNC Health Insurance. “This is a great opportunity for individuals and families to be able to keep their valuable health insurance in place and possibly save a lot of money”
“During Open Enrollment, enrolling through the web site was confusing for any COBRA beneficiary. We welcome this extension and are ready to help COBRA beneficiaries across North Carolina keep their coverage in place, reduce cost and have better benefits in place.”
Williams encourages anyone currently on COBRA to give his office a call or to stop by in person to get the process started. “If you go to healthcare.gov, you may get confused and end up not qualifying at all or for less subsidy than you are eligible for. Also, you could select a plan that does not meet your needs. We have taken thousands of individuals through the web site. Our licensed agents know how to get individuals and families enrolled in the plan that is most appropriate for them and how they use health care. We had a couple last week enroll in an ACA plan that was $ 540 less per month with significantly better benefits than their COBRA plan.” There is no additional cost to work with an agent. “This is truly free advice” says Williams. “Our agents can help you navigate the web site and talk about benefits. We can also follow up with the insurance company to help with any enrollment problems.”
ACA enrollment specialist are available by phone from 9 am to 9 pm Monday through Friday. Walk in hours are available at their location in South Asheville at 1854 Hendersonville Rd from 9 am to 6 pm Monday through Friday.
After July 1, 2014, existing COBRA beneficiaries who do not opt to switch to an ACA health insurance plan will not be eligible to enroll again until open enrollment for 2015 begins in mid-November. Only individuals who are newly eligible for COBRA (within the past 60-days), or whose COBRA benefits were recently exhausted (within the past 60-days) will be eligible for a special enrollment period.
Ready to start saving money on health insurance?
WNC Health Insurance can help you apply for substantial government subsidies under the Affordable Care Act and evaluate available health insurance plans on the Marketplace, all at no additional cost to you. Created to offer affordable health insurance and unmatched customer service to North Carolina residents WNC Health Insurance was founded in 1994 by Josh Williams as Josh Williams Enterprises, Inc., WNC Health Insurance is the largest health insurance agency in Western North Carolina.