Archived Story

Healthcare marketplace assistance available in Polk three times a week

Published 4:39pm Monday, October 7, 2013

by Samantha Hurst

Face to face assistance is available beginning today for Polk County residents attempting to navigate the new nationwide healthcare marketplace.

Polk County’s Department of Social Services Director Lou Parton said DSS has received several calls from the general public who are unsure where to turn for answers.

“People want to know what they are qualified for,” Parton said. “I understand there has been a lot of difficulty logging on to the healthcare.gov,  so it may be a while until they have all the bugs worked out.”

As individuals attempt to log in to learn more about the marketplace and complete an application there have been delays. The marketplace became available to the public Oct. 1.

Kimberley Austin with Blue Ridge Community Health Services said it’s important people understand they have time to sort out their questions, learn more information and even apply for coverage.

“With this demand and use of the site, it is really important that people understand there is no real advantage to signing up today versus mid-December,” Austin said. “While this may be a new mandate,  it doesn’t have to happen today.”

Regardless of whether a person signs up for coverage this week or on Dec. 15, their coverage will begin Jan. 1. If a person were to sign up Dec. 16, their coverage would begin Feb. 1. Open enrollment runs until March 31, 2014.

“If you wait a little bit you may not have these same frustrations, because it may ease up a little bit and be easier to get the answers you need,” Austin said.

For now, certified application counselors and navigators will be available on the following days in Polk County to walk individuals through the marketplace step by step.

Blue Ridge Community Health Services

Blue Ridge Community Health Services received a federal grant to provide outreach and enrollment through certified application counselors.

Polk County DSS: Wednesdays 1 – 5 p.m.

Polk County Public Library: Tuesdays 4-8 p.m.

* Mondays-Thursdays 8 a.m. – 6:30 p.m. and Fridays 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. at the Blue Ridge Community health services offices in Herndersonville.

Pisgah Legal Services 

Pisgah Legal Services is part of a consortium that received a federal grant for navigation.

Polk County DSS: Fridays from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Austin explained that both counselors and navigators are trained to assist families and individuals, but that navigators through Pisgah Legal Services are particularly qualified to assist business owners with SHOP (Small Business Healthcare Options Plans). 

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