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CHARLESTON — West Virginia residents who are interested in free help to learn how they might enroll or re-enroll in health insurance under the provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) have a free resource available to them. WV Navigator is a nonprofit project that received grant funding from the federal government to help in-state residents select a health insurance plan.

Open enrollment for 2021 will be Nov. 1 through Dec. 15, 2020. West Virginia residents can call 304-356-5834 to reserve a telephone appointment.

First Choice Services, working under a cooperative agreement with the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, created the program in September 2015 in order to provide information about how the health insurance Marketplace operates. They will discuss plan options and pricing and can help complete enrollments over the phone. This year, they are also offering a telehealth option that will allow applicants to see completion of their enrollment in real time. There is no charge for enrollment assistance.

Jeremy Smith, program director for WV Navigator, says the service will be especially important this year due to the large number of people who have lost health insurance due to COVID-19.

“Thousands of people across the state have lost their jobs and their health insurance over the last few months. Most people may not know where to turn for help or what health care options are available to them. We are grant-funded, so we have no profit motive, and our only goal is to help people find the best, most affordable plan for them,” Smith said.

Financial help is available when signing up for health insurance through the Marketplace. Last year, 8 in 10 applicants qualified for financial help in obtaining health care coverage. For those who are already enrolled in Marketplace health insurance, new plans and prices are available. Those with current Marketplace coverage should pick a new plan or re-enroll in their existing plan by Dec. 15, 2020, to prevent a lapse in coverage. More information is available at ACAnavigator.com.