Business

Jan. 31 Deadline to Enroll for 2016 Healthcare Coverage

January 27, 2016, 1:30 PM HST
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HealthCare.gov screenshot.

HealthCare.gov screenshot.

The Affordable Health Care Act’s 2016 open enrollment period deadline for individuals and families is closing in.

Those who are interested in signing up for 2016 healthcare coverage, and who are not already covered by government insurance program or through their jobs, have until Sunday, Jan. 31 to enroll online at HealthCare.gov or by phone.

In-person assistance is being offered by various community partnering organizations through Kokua locations.

West Hawai’i Community Health Center is among the Kokua locations, and Deborah Dahlinger, who works with the Outreach and Enrollment Kokua at the center, tells Big Island Now that though the center works in assisting with enrollment throughout the year, the Nov. 1 through Jan. 31 enrollment period has been strangely slow.

“At this time of the year, we are usually booked with 10 to 12 appointments on a daily basis, and working into the weekend,” Dahlinger said.

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The 2015 Hawai’i Health Connector’s end and transfer may be partly to blame.

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In 2015, the Hawai’i Health Connector shut down and transferred from the state level over to the federal level due to what connector officials said in June was a lack of federal funds and a decrease of funding form the Hawai’i State Legislature.

The decrease in funding followed the determination by the United States Department of Health and Human Services in Junr that Hawai’i wasn’t in compliance with certain provisions of the Affordable Care Act, including one that required the Connector to be financially self-sustaining by June 2015.

Even those who previously enrolled via the Hawai’i Health Connector in 2015 are required to re-enroll for 2016 through HealthCare.gov. Anyone previously enrolled through the Hawai’i Health Connector and who does not re-enroll will be not be insured.

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“Everyone registered under the Hawai’i Health Connector over the past two years needs to reapply or they won’t be covered,” said Dahlinger. “I don’t think they know that.”

In addition to West Hawai’i Community Health Center, the Arc of Hilo, Bay Clinic Hilo, Hamakua Health Center, Hawai’i Island HIV/AIDS Foundation, Hawai’i Island Workforce & Economic Development Ohana, Kalanihale, Project Vision Hawai’i, are among kokua locations on the Big Island. A variety of insurance agents are also available to help.

To find contact information for the assistance sites, visit the previous Hawai’i Health Connector website, where a list of resources remains active.

Enrollment events for enrollment in a group setting are also scheduled prior to the deadline.

Individuals who miss the Sunday deadline will be unable to get health insurance through the marketplace until January 2017 unless they fall under a special category.

Individuals and families can enroll either online through the portal or by calling (800) 318-2596 by 10 p.m. on Jan. 31.

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