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Effingham Health System partners with Bernard Health

To make choosing a health insurance plan easier, Effingham Health System (EHS) is bringing in experts to help patients and local residents navigate the complex federal Health Exchange during open enrollment this fall.

EHS is partnering with Bernard Health, a national firm that helps match people with affordable health insurance plans that meet their needs.

The purpose of this partnership is to assure everyone, regardless of income, finds the best possible coverage through the government’s health insurance marketplace, created by the Affordable Care Act (also known as “Obamacare”).

Bernard Health employs licensed brokers that are not commissioned, allowing them to provide guidance that is best for the individual or family, without being influenced by financial incentives.

This assistance is available to anyone in Effingham County - at no cost.

The service is available on a walk-in basis, beginning late September 2016, to prepare for open enrollment. Open enrollment for 2017 coverage begins November 1st, 2016 and ends on January 31st, 2017.

“It can be difficult to navigate the website and understand the products offered through the Affordable Care Act’s Health Exchange,” Interim Chief Executive Officer for Effingham Health System Fran Baker-Witt said. “Effingham Health System is always looking for ways to better serve our patients as well as the community. Partnering with Bernard Health is one more opportunity to provide much needed assistance to our community.”

While it takes the average individual over two hours to go through the online process, where they are confronted by a dizzying number of options, Bernard’s expert consultants can get it done in 20 to 30 minutes.

They know the questions to ask and which plans deliver specific benefits.

Individuals seeking information about coverage options outside the open enrollment period are also welcome. A “qualifying event” allows an individual to sign up outside of the regular enrollment period, but most people don’t know they are eligible.

For example, if someone has lost coverage through divorce or unemployment, there are exceptions to the open enrollment restriction.

EHS encourages everyone with questions to stop in and meet with the Bernard Health representatives. In addition to the assistance provided for marketplace enrollment, Bernard’s representatives will also assist those seeking to enroll in Medicare or Medicaid.

There may also be individuals who already have health insurance coverage, but are unsure of the benefits or where they can use it.

Anyone who has questions about current, or needed coverage, is encouraged to come in for a review. For more information, call the Business Office at 754-0480.