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Uncertainty Could Result in Access to Care Issues for Virginia ACA Enrollees

AP Photo / Andrew Harnik

As efforts continue in Washington to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, Virginia is prepping for another season of open enrollment through the ACA marketplace. But as Mallory Noe-Payne reports, confusion could mean fewer people enroll.

400,000 Virginians get insurance through the Affordable Care Act marketplace. Speaking before state lawmakers Monday, Jill Hanken with the Virginia Poverty Law Center, says a lot of those people think the ACA has been repealed.

“So we have to remind people that, it’s not! You still have opportunities for health insurance.”

But getting that word out will be tough. On top of the uncertainty created by Congress, the government has decimated funding for groups like Hanken’s “Enroll Virginia,” a nonprofit that helps people sign up. This year, they can’t afford to do radio ads.

There’s also been a lot of change in the plans available. For instance the sole ACA provider in Richmond will no longer cover care at two of the region’s largest hospital systems: VCU and Bon Secours.  

Put all of that together and there’s going to be a lot of confusion, says Hanken,  

“There are going to be issues related to access to care from the providers people are used to going to, so we do have questions and concerns about that.”

If people end up out of network they could face unexpected bills. And because of budgets cuts the nonprofit they could turn to for help, will no longer be fully staffed year round.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association

Mallory Noe-Payne is a Radio IQ reporter based in Richmond.