Last winter, 2,045 Northern Virginian families were able to get answers about the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and enroll in healthcare coverage, thanks to a community-wide investment of nonprofit organizations, local government, foundations and volunteers.
With the anticipated ACA Open Enrollment Period of Nov. 15, 2014 – Feb. 15, 2015, Northern Virginia Family Service not only is preparing to help a new wave of clients with enrollment assistance, but also is reaching out to the newly-insured to educate them about healthcare. Sessions will be held every Saturday at various locations throughout Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William Counties.
"Navigating managed care can be tricky for anyone, even if you've grown up in the system and understand how insurance works," says Cyndy Dailey, NVFS director health and mental health services. "We recognized from the onset that our work was not just about enrollment, but the educational piece of understanding what insurance is, setting expectations, and knowing your rights and responsibilities under coverage."
The success of the program hinges on the time and talents of dozens of dedicated volunteers, who generally spend an hour and a half with every client to introduce them to healthcare, show them how they can find affordable plans that fit their family needs, and help them enroll in a qualified health plan. Last year, 80 dedicated volunteers became Certified Application Counselors (CAC) and donated 3,000 hours of their time over the course of the enrollment period. NVFS CAC April Cook reflected on her volunteer experience: "When you help people through a tough situation, people who have never had health insurance but have been really sick and denied coverage for miniscule reasons, seeing them finally get coverage was very rewarding."
NVFS currently is recruiting volunteers for this effort. Volunteers are asked to commit to at least four enrollment Saturdays (9 a.m. - 4 p.m.) out of 14 enrollment sessions offered. Ongoing support and training is provided by NVFS program coordinators. Spanish, Vietnamese and Arabic speakers are especially needed.
To learn more, visit http://nvfs.org/health-marketplace or contact Terry Goplerud, marketplace coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 571-748-2500, for more information and to apply.
"Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, families no longer have to make the choice between basic necessities like food and shelter and health care," said Mary Agee, NVFS president and CEO. "By ensuring healthcare for all Virginians, we are helping at-risk families chart a path toward self-reliance, which ultimately makes our community a better, stronger place."