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McAuliffe kicks off open enrollment for Affordable Care Act marketplace

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Sign-ups for year two of Obamacare begins Saturday

Joyce B. Watts talk with Dr. William Hazel, Virginia health and human resources secretary at an Affordable Care Act open enrollment kick-off event Thursday at the Vernon J. Harris Medical and Dental Center.

Watts said she had health insurance through Richmond Public Schools, but the retired teacher's aide said when the plan's premiums more than doubled she shopped for a plan on the Affordable Care Act marketplace.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe said Virginia’s government is “all in” this year as open enrollment for the second year of the Affordable Care Act marketplace begins Saturday.

“We must reach Virginians who already qualify for low-cost health care. We need to educate them about what plans are available to them, about their choices, and then folks, we have to go out and sign folks up,” McAuliffe said Thursday at an open enrollment kickoff event at Vernon J. Harris Medical and Dental Center in Richmond’s Church Hill neighborhood.

Last year more than 200,000 Virginians enrolled in Affordable Care Act marketplace health plans. McAuliffe said projections are that an additional 160,000 Virginians will sign up this year.

Federally supported health centers such as the Vernon J. Harris facility that have staff trained as application counselors helped thousands of people sign up last year, said R. Neal Graham, chief executive officer of the Virginia Community Healthcare Association.

“This gives us the opportunity to sign up even thousands more,” Graham said, referring to a partnership with the state to do open enrollment outreach.

McAuliffe said a marketing campaign to promote enrollment will use display advertisements on buses, digital ads and more. It will launch in December.

Open enrollment runs through Feb. 15, but people who want coverage starting Jan. 1 need to sign up by Dec. 15.

Many people will be automatically re-enrolled in the plans they have this year, but consumer advocates advise people to go online and update their information, check for changes to plans and make sure the current plan is still the one they want.

In addition to the main federal government’s Healthcare.gov website for signups, consumers will be able to go to CoverVa.org and find out about state programs such as Medicaid or the state children’s health insurance program.

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