Hospital hosts insurance workshop as deadline nears

Published 9:44 am Wednesday, February 4, 2015

NW0204 Sycamore Shoals Insurance Signups A

People needing help navigating the health insurance system were guided along the way during an open enrollment event at Sycamore Shoals Hospital Tuesday afternoon.
Health Care Navigators from Advanced Patient Advocacy were on hand at the hospital for a few hours to help individuals figure out if they are eligible for health insurance through the health insurance marketplace and then to help them apply if they chose to pursue that route. The deadline for enrollment is Feb. 15.
“We are here to help anyone who does not have insurance and wants to find out if they can get it,” said Navigator Austin White. “We help them through the marketplace process and help to educate those who don’t understand how to get health insurance.”
This was the group’s first visit to Sycamore Shoals and within 30 minutes of setting up the informational booth, the navigators had assisted three people with their insurance needs.
Karen Pearman stopped by the hospital on her way home from work for the day. She currently does not have health insurance and was checking into the options available to her.
“I needed to check on getting insurance,” Pearman said. “What they are doing is a lot of help. I don’t understand a lot of the process. I am computer illiterate and there are a lot of details to figure out that have to be done on the computer. Working with them makes it easier.”
After checking Pearman’s information, White was able to determine she is eligible for insurance on the marketplace. Pearman signed up for an account and started browsing through the options available for her.
“I can get insurance,” she said. “I’m checking to see what works best for me.”
Health Care Navigator Nicole White said the process could take from 10 minutes to an hour, depending on how far applicants wanted to go through the marketplace. She explained the basic screening process of the applicant’s background and financial information takes around 10 minutes. If the person is eligible for insurance, selecting and applying for coverage can take as much as an hour.
“We ask them about themselves and gather that information,” she said. “We let them know that all information stays private and we help them with the application process if they choose to go that far.”
Some people visit the sign-up center looking for information before beginning to apply. White said the most common questions center around the cost of health insurance.
“Most people want to know what it will cost them,” White said. “They also ask about the fee that will be charged if they don’t have insurance and if they qualify for an exemption from the fee.”
Under the Affordable Care Act, if a person can afford insurance but chooses not to have minimum coverage, they will have to pay 2 percent of their yearly household income or $325 per person, or $162.50 per child; whichever is the highest. Exemptions are available for people who have been uninsured for three months or less; the cost of insurance is more than 8 percent of the household income and other considerations.
“We hope that people walk out of here today with insurance, or a better idea of what they can afford,” White said. “We hope they find the coverage they need to help with doctor’s visit, prescriptions and other health care costs.”
Advanced Patient Advocacy will be holding another sign-up session at the Johnson County Community Hospital today from 2:30 to 7 p.m., and at Unicoi County Memorial Hospital on Thursday, Feb. 5 from 2:30 to 7 p.m.
Davis said people can also arrange for individual appointments.
For more information, call (423) 431-1788 or visit

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox