How to get free help with open enrollment

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Open enrollment started Wednesday and millions of Americans will be heading to the Marketplace to get health insurance provided through the Affordable Care Act.

WREG found several local places where residents can get free help to sign up for coverage.

For the past two days, workers at the Church Health Center have been sitting with clients, helping them sign up for health insurance.

Leah Jaynes is part of the Health Care Advisory Team at Church Health.  She's also one of six, non-for-profit insurance brokers, helping consumers with open enrollment.

Jaynes said, "The website worked very well.  If you`ve done an application in the past, it auto-fills your information so you can very easily go in and check that everything is right, report any changes you need to make."

Jaynes also says despite news of higher premiums, she's seen lower prices.

She told WREG, "The first three families that I helped received premium assistance that helped them get free insurance, it was a free silver plan through Cigna... and they aren`t going to pay anything monthly for their insurance and are also seeing really low deductibles. "

That's, of course, not the case for everyone, especially those with higher incomes, who don't qualify for a tax credit.

However, Jaynes added, "Unless you`ve had a significant change in income, you should expect to see similar costs for your premiums."

The Church Health Center is one of many places in town where people can get free help signing up for health insurance.

WREG also sat down with navigator Tamika Smith.

Federal funding cuts led to fewer navigator positions across the country.

However, they're around and ready to help consumers.

News Channel 3 used the website Get Covered Tennessee to find Smith.

Tennessee residents can also call 1-844-644-5443 to be connected to a navigator, or assistance in their area.

Smith explained, "Once they call hotline number they will ask them a few questions to actually see if they qualify to actually speak with a navigator, if so they will book them to a navigator, that`s closest to them based on their zip code."

Two days a week Smith's in South Memphis at the Social Suds Resource Center on Bellevue, the other days, she's at the Shelby County Health Department.

She takes appointments and walk ins.

Since open enrollment only runs through December 15th this year, she says it's critical for consumers to go ahead and apply.

"Don't procrastinate, I suggest that people don`t procrastinate they call in now, come on now."

Consumers can also visit healthcare.gov for more information.

The Church Health Center will also be hosting open enrollment events at different libraries throughout the community. Call 901-272-0003 for more information.

Latino Memphis has bilingual navigators to provide assistance.

Smith and Jaynes say anyone who seeks help with open enrollment should take the following to their appointments:

  • Proof of income (W2s, check stubs, etc)
  • Dependent information
  • List of current physicians, pharmacies used, medicines
  • Previous username and password if previously covered through ACA