It may be the first opportunity some Americans have had to get health insurance, but the Oct. 1 opening of the Missouri Health Insurance Marketplace could be confusing to those trying to access the system for the first time.
Mercy is ready to help. With a $573,000 grant from the Missouri Foundation for Health (MFH), Mercy has hired 17 Certified Application Counselors (CACs). Those counselors will work directly with Missourians to help them understand and choose the most appropriate insurance coverage for their families. They will be available for in-person appointments at Mercy hospitals in St. Louis, Washington, Jefferson County, Springfield, Lebanon and Joplin. To get started, just dial toll-free 1-855-900-4140.
“This effort aligns with Mercy’s values to seek out and put the needs of others first,” said John Young, executive director of Access for Mercy. “We know that many who don’t have insurance put off going to the doctor because they worry they can’t afford it. That often leads to unnecessary complications. Our hope is that we can help people get coverage so they feel comfortable accessing the care they need.”
This grant is part of Cover Missouri, a larger education effort, funded by MFH to expand health care coverage. MFH estimates 17 percent of Missourians are uninsured, and the goal is to reduce that number to 5 percent in five years. Cover Missouri’s mission is to promote quality, affordable health coverage for every Missourian. The Cover Missouri Coalition, which includes Mercy and more than 160 other organizations around the state, aims to reduce the rate of uninsured Missourians to less than five percent in the next five years. Members work to build awareness, facilitate enrollment and increase health insurance literacy. Along with the grants that fund the CACs, the coalition has an interactive, nonpartisan website: www.covermissouri.org.
While many questions won’t be answered until the marketplace opens on Oct. 1, Young says one thing is clear. “Mercy will be here to guide you through the process and provide the help you need. The initial enrollment period lasts for six months, and we’ll work to get you scheduled with a counselor as soon as possible. Just call our toll-free number to get started.”