Hello, Miami Countians! Here are just a couple of reminders from your local, friendly free clinic:

First of all, the ACA is still the law of the land. It has not been repealed, replaced or reworked. And open enrollment for 2018 coverage has begun, running from Nov. 1, 2017 to Dec. 15, 2017. Secondly, the shared responsibility payment continues to be enforced. This means that for tax year 2018, tax filers will have to pay a fine for not maintaining Minimum Essential Coverage, just as they have since 2014. And lastly, there is still free, unbiased help available to help navigate through the HealthCare.gov website, at Health Partners Free Clinic.

For the fifth year, Health Partners is housing a Certified Application Counselor (CAC), formerly known as a Navigator. The CAC is available to help anyone in the community, not just patients of the clinic, create an account on the Federal Exchange, fill out the application, compare the plans that are presented, and enroll in the plan that the consumer feels best fits their financial and medical needs.

Whether going on HealthCare.gov for the first time, re-enrolling or enrolling in a new plan, simply checking out the available options, or even filling out an exemption, the Exchange has seen many changes over the past year, and having the help of an unbiased “broker,” without attachment or allegiance to any one company, can certainly be beneficial.

The Insurance Marketplace is a little different this year. They are cracking down on fines for any consumer who has not previously reconciled their Premium Tax Credit from years prior or is not up-to-date on their monthly premium payments, and those individuals are going to have to overcome those barriers before they are allowed to enroll in any subsidized plan. Also, Miami County is now working with only one insurance company on the Marketplace.

With only one company offering coverage it may seem like consumers only have one option, but that is not necessarily the case. The one company offers a multitude of different plans in the different medal levels, allowing consumers the option to actually shop around.

There have been a lot of changes in the Miami Valley over the past year in relation to major health networks, local and national insurance companies, and the way they all collide in the ever profitable medical industry.

The problem is that when all the big players are playing a game of racquetball with their contracts and affiliations, it is the patients that suffer. It may be just a game of dollars and cents to these companies, but it is a game that they take very seriously. So seriously, that sometimes winning the game trumps the importance of a patient’s life. That’s why unbiased help is a plus. I don’t get paid by commission with a certain company. Not that there is a problem with that style of insurance sales, it is just not what the CAC program was set up for.

I am only here to help and serve, just like everyone else here at Health Partners.

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For the past five years, Stephanie Morris has served at the clinic as a certified application counselor. To make an appointment with Morris, or learn about other clinic programming and donation options, contact Health Partners Free Clinic at (937) 332-0894. Health Partners Free Clinic is located at 1300 N. County Rd 25-A, Troy.

For the past five years, Stephanie Morris has served at the clinic as a certified application counselor. To make an appointment with Morris, or learn about other clinic programming and donation options, contact Health Partners Free Clinic at (937) 332-0894. Health Partners Free Clinic is located at 1300 N. County Rd 25-A, Troy.