Opportunity Council navigator Lisa Clark (left) talks about healthcare enrollment in Freeland last month. The same free service is scheduled Tuesday, Jan. 9, 1-7 p.m. at Skagit Valley College in Oak Harbor. Photo provided

Opportunity Council navigator Lisa Clark (left) talks about healthcare enrollment in Freeland last month. The same free service is scheduled Tuesday, Jan. 9, 1-7 p.m. at Skagit Valley College in Oak Harbor. Photo provided

Healthcare enrollment help coming to Oak Harbor

Navigators available Jan. 9 at Skagit Valley College

Help for healthcare enrollment is on the way to Oak Harbor.

Opportunity Council of Island County representatives will be on hand 1-7 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 9, at Skagit Valley Community College to answer questions and help people enroll for insurance under the federal Affordable Care Act.

Friday, Jan. 15 is the last day to sign-up for health and dental care. Coverage begins Feb. 1.

Volunteers and insurance agents will go over options based on health needs and income eligibility.

The sign-up drive is part of the Washington Healthcare Plan Finder program.

While unemployed or low wage earners may be eligible for full coverage under the state’s Medicaid Apple Health plan, others may meet requirements for discounted health insurance.

“We really want to get the word out and encourage people to find out if they’re eligible,” said Linda Wehrman, a volunteer.

From her long nursing career, Wehrman knows how tenuous good health can be.

“I understand just how important health insurance is for everyone. Even if you are young and healthy, this could change in an instant,” she said. “I saw it many times in the 30 years I was a nurse.”

Even if companies offer a health care benefit, employees may be eligible for less expensive health insurance under the ACA subsidy system, Wehrman explained.

But it depends on income and the cost of the employer-provided coverage.

The Opportunity Council, a private non-profit community action agency, held a similar enrollment drive in Freeland last month, enrolling 16 families.

WhidbeyHealth is also reaching out to patients who might be eligible for Medicaid Apple Care. Its enrolled about 465 new people into Medicaid this year, said Patricia Duff, WhidbeyHealth public relations.

Some 230,000 people statewide selected health plans through the Washington Healthcare Plan Finder by Dec. 15, the first deadline, according to the Washington Health Benefit Exchange.

That represents a 35 percent increase over the same point in time last year.

Online enrollment: www.wahealthplanfinder.org or call 1-855-923-4633

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