Last updated: March 11. 2014 6:39AM - 869 Views
By Senator Jay Rockefeller

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Since October 1, 2013, more than four million Americans have signed up for health care coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace, which was established under the health reform law. In West Virginia, more than 87,000 residents have enrolled in the state’s newly expanded Medicaid program. As we near the last day to enroll, March 31, 2014, I want to remind all West Virginians about the benefits of getting health care coverage, and the new opportunities for coverage that the health care law provides.

During my 50 years in public service, one of the cornerstones of my work has been my efforts to expand health care coverage to cover more Americans. Put simply, health care is something everyone deserves – not just a privileged few. That’s the heart of the Affordable Care Act, and why I have always supported it.

Thanks to the health care law, many West Virginians are, for the first time in their lives, experiencing the benefits of regular check-ups and preventive care. Gone are the days of relying on expensive emergency room visits to see a doctor for simple treatments. Plans now must cover more preventive services, like cancer screenings, mammograms, and colonoscopies.

It’s so important to get covered before the open enrollment period ends on March 31, 2014, either through the Health Insurance Marketplace, or public programs like Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). If you don’t enroll before March 31, you will have to wait until October 2014 to enroll through the Marketplace again.

Since enrollment started, I’ve heard from so many West Virginians who’ve personally benefited from the law and the coverage they were able to get. No longer can you be turned away because of a pre-existing condition, like diabetes or asthma. Parents can finally rest at night without worrying how they will get their child the care they need. The peace of mind that having good health insurance provides is another reason to start your insurance application today.

I know the rollout of the health care law has been anything but perfect – but as the enrollment figures indicate, fixes have been made and more and more are able to enroll each day. There are many resources to help you enroll in coverage if you still haven’t signed up. And, there are trained professionals who can help you navigate your coverage options and enroll in a plan that works for you. You can find trained and certified people to help you at the West Virginia Insurance Commission Health Reform County Help, or by calling the main Marketplace number at (800) 318-2596.

My message to all West Virginians who are eligible for coverage during this open enrollment period – take action now. The time you spend enrolling in health care coverage will provide you, and your family, with the health insurance benefits you need to stay healthy, and financial protection if you have an accident or get sick. As the end of this enrollment period nears, I urge you to act. Health care coverage will make all the difference in your health, as well as the health of your loved ones, now and in the future.

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