Thousands of uninsured Kansans are entitled to free health insurance

In 2014, a man in his 50s came to GraceMed Health Clinic in Wichita, asking him about his options for purchasing health insurance.

He hadn’t cared about the blanket before. The expense turned out to be intimidating for someone running their own business.

GraceMed employee Juven Nava recalls helping the man find coverage for a monthly premium of around $ 20 through

“For so long, the only thing he thought he could sacrifice was health insurance,” Nava said.

And now he finally had it.

“I told him… ‘Use it. Have everything checked. You haven’t seen a doctor in ages.

This is exactly what the Independent did. Tests revealed cancer and he began treatment.

The experience has stayed with Nava, who has helped people buy subsidized health insurance every year since.

This year, more uninsured Kansans are eligible for financial assistance than before the pandemic. It’s part of a coronavirus relief law that Congress passed in March.

Over a quarter of a million Kansans have no health insurance

About 260,000 Kansans have no health insurance. The Kaiser Family Foundation estimated in May that approximately 70,000 uninsured Kansans are eligible for free health plans through for 2022. Tens of thousands more may benefit from reduced premiums, sometimes as low as $ 10 per month.

Due to the temporary changes related to the pandemic, some people who earn more than four times the poverty level will find themselves eligible for grants.

On Monday, the annual enrollment period began for people wishing to purchase health insurance through for 2022.

Membership continues until January 15, but if you want your coverage to begin on January 1, you must register by December 15 at the latest.

How can you get help exploring your options?

Nava leads a team of bilingual experts at GraceMed – about half a dozen mariners who sit down with you in Wichita or Topeka for free, talk about your options, and answer any questions you have about the lingo. assurance.

Maximums out of your pocket? Co-insurance? Bronze, silver and gold plans? It’s their job to make sense of you.

The next few months promise to be busy for the GraceMed team. Their work is in demand.

“We were already getting calls a month ago… trying to stick to our sailing schedules,” Nava said. “So this week is pretty crowded.”

They meet people one-on-one, in English or Spanish, and try to reach everyone. Sometimes they call on colleagues from other clinics to help them. They can also direct people to assistance in other languages.

If you want to talk to a navigator, Nava recommends that you find an expert near you, as a face-to-face meeting is valuable.

You can do this on the GetCoveredKansas website, run by a coalition of community clinics across Kansas that help people buy insurance.

Or you can call the Coalition at (866) 826-8375 to ask questions or make an appointment which could take place in person, by phone or by video conference.

More Kansas Insurance Plans

Some Kansans have more insurance plans to choose from this year. is not the only place where you can buy insurance, but if you are eligible for grants, you can only get this financial assistance through the official market.

This year, seven companies are selling insurance to Kansans on, including local options like Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas and national insurers like Cigna.

It’s more options than ever. It continues a dramatic trend in recent years of increasing options:

• 2019: Three insurers offered 23 plans across Kansas.

• 2020: Five insurers offered 82 plans.

• 2021: Six insurers have offered 100 plans.

• 2022: Seven insurers offer 123 plans.

Still, the choices vary by county. Most rural counties only have three insurance companies to choose from. More urban areas have more options.

Celia Llopis-Jepsen reports on consumer health for the Kansas News Service.

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