Natalia Cales, executive officer for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Region IV, explains the open enrollment process for the government’s affordale health care program during a town hall meeting held Thursday at the Carl Rhodenizer Recreation Center in Rex. (Staff Photo: Curt Yeomans)
REX — Amanda Ptashkin warned residents Thursday to be careful when they enroll for the federal government’s affordable health care program, beginning Oct. 1.
Ptashkin, the director of outreach and advocacy for Georgians for A Healthy Future, wasn’t warning them to beware of President Barack Obama’s administration or extremely high health insurance prices, though. No, this was something — someone — entirely different that she was warning the crowd of nearly three dozen residents to be wary of.
She warned them to look out for scam artists intending to prey on the uninsured by pretending to help them sign up for the affordable insurance, when they really just want personal and financial information.
“You need to be careful because there will be people who will try to defraud you,” said Ptashkin.
Ptashkin, who is training to become a federally-qualified health navigator, was one of three speakers at an affordable health care town hall meeting hosted Thursday by state Rep. Sandra Scott (D-Rex) at the Carl Rhodenizer Recreation Center. The gist of the meeting was to educate residents on how to sign up for the program.
The other speakers included Natalia Cales, executive officer for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Region IV, and insurance advisor Benjamin Straker.
Straker explained there are five insurance companies in Georgia participating in the affordable health care program. They are Humana, Kaiser, Aliant, Blue Cross/Blue Shield and PeachCare.
Cales said anyone who signed up for one of the government’s insurance programs by Dec. 15 will see their coverage begin Jan. 1 If they sign up by Jan. 15, the coverage begins Feb. 1. The same scenario plays out for people who enrollment by either Feb. 15 or March 15.
Open enrollment ends March 31, though.
“After March 31, you have to wait until next year to enroll, unless you have a life-changing event, such as you had insurance through your job and you lose that job,” said Cales.
Cales also echoed Ptashkin’s warning to beware of scam artists preying on the uninsured. She said residents who need assistance can go on the registration website, healthcare.gov, and find a list of federal-qualified health navigators and insurance advisers or brokers who have been trained to help people enroll for insurance.
Anyone who needs assistance understanding the enrollment process can contact Ptashkin at firstname.lastname@example.org, Cales at Natalia.Cales@hhs.gov and Straker at email@example.com.