AHEC West New Affordable Care Act Connector Entity for Western Maryland PDF Print E-mail
Wellness - Wellness
Written by David Stewart   
Monday, 11 July 2016 06:47

Area Health Education Center West (AHEC West), a Cumberland-based non-profit dedicated to improving access to and promoting quality in health care, was chosen by the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange to become the official health insurance Connector Entity in the Far Western Region of Maryland, which is comprised of Garrett, Allegany, and Washington counties. AHEC West’s Connector Entity program will be known as the Western Maryland Health Insurance Connector, with information about the program found at www.wmdhealthconnect.org. Residents can also call the Connector by using one of these numbers: Washington County, 301-302-0052; Allegany County, 301-723-7093; Garrett County, 301-501-5700; or toll-free at 1-888-202-0212.

“We’re very pleased to have been chosen to be the new Connector Entity,” says Susan Stewart, Executive Director of AHEC West. “AHEC West has long established partnerships with health care agencies and providers throughout the Far Western Region. Our existing partnerships and the new ones we create will support the Health Insurance Connector in reaching those people in our area still without health insurance. It is vitally important that our community comes to truly understand how the effective use of health insurance can increase quality of life and improve financial security.”

AHEC West will provide assistance to people in the region who have questions about or want to shop for health insurance from Maryland’s Health Insurance Marketplace, the Maryland Health Connection.

AHEC West will employ Certified Navigators throughout the region to help consumers with issues such as determining eligibility for financial help in purchasing insurance, enrolling in insurance outside an open enrollment period, and understanding how to use an insurance plan. People will also receive assistance in comparing plans to find the one that best meets their needs, and individuals eligible for Medicaid will also be able to get assistance in enrolling from the Health Insurance Connector.

The Health Insurance Connector will reach the uninsured population in each county through a number of methods, including working with partner agencies throughout the region and tapping local resources that may have access to the targeted population. The goal is to continue the historic declines in the uninsured rate and to improve the overall health of the region.

According to figures released by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Affordable Care Act has reduced the percentage of the national population without health insurance to 9.2%, the lowest rate recorded in the last 50 years. Prior to the enactment of the Affordable Care Act, the uninsured rate for the nation was 15.7%.

In the Far Western Region, the estimated uninsured rate in 2015 was 8% in Garrett and Washington counties and 10% in Allegany County, according to Enroll America. Prior to implementation of the Affordable Care Act, those rates ran 15% in Garrett, 13% in Washington, and 16% in Allegany County.

 “While there is considerable work ahead of us, we’re ready to help people in our community understand their options and get access to the insurance they need,” Ms. Stewart states. “It’s very simple; we want to help people improve their lives through access to quality health care.”

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