On Wellness in WV

The federal government released data today showing that West Virginia still lags behind other states in selecting plans on the federal health insurance marketplace.

The health insurance marketplace is where to find plans that meet the standards of the Affordable Care Act, including the requirement to cover pre-existing conditions, offer “essential health benefits” and tax credits, and avoid a tax penalty for lack of insurance.

The Gazette-Mail reported Tuesday that West Virginia was the only state showing fewer people selecting plans on the marketplace than last year during the same time period. Most states are showing more people logging on to Healthcare.gov and picking the right plan for them, when compared to the same time period last year; that’s because open enrollment is shorter this year so people have to sign up earlier. Open enrollment ends Friday. Last year it ended Jan. 31.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services released a chart today that showed several thousand people in the state selected their plans last week, but the state still lags behind; 13,257 West Virginians have logged on and chosen their plans. By the same week last year, 14,909 people had chosen their plan.

People may be choosing to auto-enroll. Of about 34,000 West Virginians who got coverage through the marketplace last year, more than 10,000 auto-enrolled. West Virginia seemed to have a greater number of people who chose to auto-enroll, when compared to other states, according to data from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

(Another 160,000 West Virginians get coverage through Medicaid expansion, another component of the Affordable Care Act.)

But representatives of Navigator programs, which help people select insurance, in West Virginia are urging people not to auto-enroll. They may find better deals by shopping around.

The Kaiser Family Foundation warns that “letting the exchange automatically renew your coverage … could be a big mistake.”