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Looking for health care coverage for 2018? Here are some tips from the field

Even with her busy days, handling back-to-back scheduled appointments, walk-ins, and phone calls, Nancee Carpenter is one of the cheerful faces that greets you in the Cornell Scott – Hill Health Center Access to Care Department. She and two colleagues at the New Haven community health center are ready and willing to walk you through the process of enrolling in health insurance.

Nancee is a pro when it comes to open enrollment. She has been a certified application counselor with the state’s health insurance marketplace, Access Health CT, since 2013 and sees about 10 people a day, five days a week.

With less than three weeks to go before the Dec. 22 enrollment deadline, she outlined some advice for those looking to get health insurance for 2018.

Cornell Scott Hill Access to Care Department Team. From left to right: Eunisa Colon, Access to Care Outreach Worker, Ingrid Gallo, Access to Care Manager, Betsalit Torres, Access to Care Outreach Worker, Nancee Carpenter, Access To Care Outreach Worker

1. Be Prepared

The biggest mistake Nancee sees? People coming in without the information needed to determine their income level. That kind of documentation is important because your income determines whether you qualify for financial help buying insurance or HUSKY, the state’s Medicaid program.

How do you know what to bring? If you are going to an enrollment center, call ahead to schedule an appointment and learn what you need to bring with you.

Note: What do I need to bring with me to my appointment?

When you call to schedule your appointment, we will let you know everything that you will need to bring. These items may include:

  • Your last four (4) consecutive pay stubs (or 2 if paid bi-weekly)
  • Taxes for the current year
  • Photo ID (birth certificate for minors)
  • Proof of residency
  • Social Security Card
  • Permanent Resident Card

Another tip: If you are married and only one spouse is applying for coverage, you need financial statements for both individuals because eligibility is based on household, not individual, income.

2. Remember: The Affordable Care Act is still the law and you need to sign up for health insurance

There is still a penalty if you don’t have health insurance. In 2018, the penalty for not having coverage will be $695 OR 2.5 percent of your income, whichever is greater.

If you’re wondering if you can afford insurance, know that there are tax credits available to reduce the monthly premiums for people who qualify.

3. The Access Health CT call center is a great option if you have questions

The call center has been extremely helpful this year in sorting out user login problems and questions about financial documents, Nancee says. It has bilingual operators to help you in more than 100 languages.

4. You may need to speak to a broker

There is lots of free help available from brokers and assisters. What’s the difference?

Nancee is a certified application counselor – she is trained to help you understand your health insurance options and can actually help you fill out the application to enroll. What can’t she do? She can’t tell you which plan to choose. That is the job of a broker. If you have more questions about which plan would be the best option for you, Nancee will connect you with their broker who can follow up and make sure you understand which plan fits you best.

I live in the New Haven area and want to get help enrolling in health insurance. Where can I find the Access to Care Department?

If you’re in the New Haven area, you can call and make an appointment with Nancee or one of the other three certified application counselors at Cornell Scott – Hill Health Center – Access to Care Dept. 393 Columbus Ave. 2nd floor New Haven, CT. 06519. Appointments take on average one hour and the center is open Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. It will also be open on two upcoming Saturdays, December 2nd and December 9th, from 9.30 a.m. to 2.30 p.m.  Please call (203) 503-3720 to schedule an appointment.

If you are outside the New Haven area, you can visit one of the other open enrollment centers and speak with an a certified application counselor.