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Affordable Care Act Enrollment Deadline Approaches

December 15 is the enrollment deadline for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act, which became law nearly ten years ago. BPR’s Helen Chickering checked in with Jackie Kiger at Pisgah Legal Services to find out what people need to know as they navigate this year’s marketplace.  

The ACA (Affordable Care Act) - also known as Obamacare was  enacted in March 2010 and made significant changes in federal programs and tax policies regarding health care (and in other areas)—including changes affecting insurance coverage, affordability and accessibility of insurance, the financing of medical care, and the operation of the Medicare program.   It is the law that ensures access to quality, affordable health insurance on the Health Insurance Marketplace. With these plans, consumers are protected and:
Can’t be denied coverage for a pre-existing health condition and can’t be dropped for getting sick;
Insurers can’t charge higher premiums to women; and
Insurers can’t sell substandard plans that don’t pay for essential health care benefits.
More from Pisgah Legal Services:

Time is running out for consumers to sign up for quality, affordable health insurance for 2020 through the ACA marketplace at www.healthcare.gov. Enrollment ends December 15, and free, one-on-one assistance is available with trained experts to help local people understand their options and get covered. Walk-in events are planned around WNC, and individual appointments are also still available.

Shannon Cornelius ,  Pisgah Legal’s Health Justice Program Director, says, “The best thing for folks to do is to take advantage of the free, un-biased help that is being offered locally and sit down with trained experts who can explain the pros and cons of these different health plans. Then the consumer can make an informed decision.”

Financial assistance is still available to those who qualify. Last year, more than 90percent of North Carolinians who enrolled for coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace received financial assistance to make their plans more affordable.

Free, In-Person Help is Available with Trained Professionals

Pisgah Legal Services (PLS), a nonprofit that provides free legal aid, and other Enrollment Partners of WNC participating organizations give local residents free, unbiased health insurance information and enrollment assistance in the NC Health Insurance Marketplace. These organizations include: Blue Ridge Community Health Services, Council on Aging of Buncombe County, Legal Aid of North Carolina, Mountain Projects, Inc., Pisgah Legal Services, Western Carolina Medical Society and WNC Community Health Services.

Consumers who wish to meet with a Pisgah Legal Services may also schedule an appointment in Asheville at the Pisgah Legal Serviceoffice, 62 Charlotte Street, or at other locations around WNC.

In addition to appointments, these walk-in events are happening:

  • Monday December 9th, 4:30-7pm Mission Health Mauzy Phillips Community Rm, 189 Hospital Dr., Spruce Pine
  • Thursday December 12th, 12:30-6:30pm Haywood County Library, Canton, 11 Pennsylvania Ave., Canton. Call 828-452-1447  
  • Saturday December 14th, 9am-4:30pm, Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church, 789 Merrimon Ave, Asheville
  • Saturday December 14th, 10:30am-3:30pm Jackson County Library, 310 Keener St., Sylva


Helen Chickering is a host and reporter on Blue Ridge Public Radio. She joined the station in November 2014.