Need health insurance? PA's health insurance marketplace focuses on the Lehigh Valley
BETHELEHEM, Pa. — ‘Tis the season for choosing health care coverage.
Pennsylvania’s Health Insurance Exchange is focusing on getting those in the Lehigh Valley insured at an affordable price during open enrollment.
"You can't wait until you get sick or injured to enroll,” said Devon Trolley, executive director of Pennie, the state’s official health insurance marketplace.
"If you're looking at a plan without any financial savings, you could be looking at $500, $600 a month. With Pennie we see a lot of people paying $10, $20, $30 a month for those same comprehensive plans. And that's done through the financial savings that are only available through Pennie."Devon Trolley, executive director of Pennie
The state-run program connects Pennsylvanians who do not have affordable coverage through their job, Medicaid, Medicare or other sources with major insurance companies.
"If you're looking at a plan without any financial savings, you could be looking at $500, $600 a month," Trolley said. "With Pennie we see a lot of people paying $10, $20, $30 a month for those same comprehensive plans.
"And that's done through the financial savings that are only available through Pennie."
She said her team is working to let people in the Lehigh Valley know about its health insurance option because it’s a part of the state where people are more likely to be uninsured.
'Problems that could get worse'
And that number is increasing.
“We do see, in the Lehigh Valley area, that there are more people becoming uninsured instead of more people becoming insured," she said.
"And as Pennie we really want Pennsylvanians to be covered to have that peace of mind that comes with having health coverage.”
Trolley said Pennie is the only place to get financial savings based on income on high quality plans.
“We do see, in the Lehigh Valley area, that there are more people becoming uninsured instead of more people becoming insured."Devon Trolley, executive director of Pennie
“When a lot of people in an area don't have health insurance, or there's more people without it, that means more people aren't getting financial protection in the case of illness or injury,” she said.
“It means people aren't getting preventive care, which they can get for free if they get a plan through Pennie that includes flu vaccines and important screenings, like mammograms and colonoscopies.
"And it also means that they're not getting medical care for problems that could get worse if they don't get that medical care. "
Trolley said another reason Pennie is spreading the word about its services during open enrollment is because the Medicaid renewal process is changing, so some people may not be eligible and left searching for insurance.
“About one in four people who enroll after losing Medicaid pay $1 a month to cover their whole family,” she said.
Another deadline looming
People are encouraged to enroll in insurance through Pennie by Dec. 15 to be covered on New Year's Day. However, the enrollment period is open until Jan. 15.
Another deadline that is looming is the deadline to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan.
"Medicare Advantage is sometimes referred to as Part C of Medicare, offered by private companies, and covers everything that A and B covers," said Ed Rehrig, a regional representative for Geisinger Gold, a Medicare Advantage provider.
Geisinger covers Bucks, Lehigh, Northampton, Carbon, Monroe and Schuylkill counties.
"And it does so, most of the time, without the deductibles, gets rid of the coinsurance by replacing it with co-pays, and also adds extra benefits that seniors like, such as their prescription drug coverage, dental, vision, hearing aids, and some plans also give them over the counter benefits as well,” Rehrig said.
Medicare Advantage is another way for people to consolidate their healthcare service fees and potentially save money."
"A lot of people will utter those words that they are ‘insurance poor,’ and they get that way because they have ever increasing premium costs as they age," Rehrig said.
"With a Medicare Advantage plan, your rate is based upon the county that you reside in, not your age, not your health.”
Those 65 and older or anybody on Medicare is eligible for Medicare Advantage.
The annual Medicare Advantage enrollment period is now open until Dec. 7.