Health Insurance

The deadline to sign up for health insurance under the Affordable care act is about two weeks away. Under the law, anyone without a plan in place by February 15th will  face fines.

For many, the process is confusing and even daunting, but if you haven’t signed up yet and would like to, there’s still time. A non-partisan group called “Enroll Virginia” is offering free help over the phone or in person for anyone who has not chosen a health coverage plan.

Virginia’s Medicaid program provides healthcare for poor children, the elderly and disabled, but working adults rarely qualify.  Experts say as many as 400,000 people could get insurance if the state were to expand its Medicaid program, but there’s another reason why some lawmakers support that idea – it could be good for the economy. 

Opponents say Virginia can’t afford to expand Medicaid - even with the federal government paying 90-100% of the bill, but supporters say failing to expand the program will be even more expensive.

Virginia’s hospitals are required  to treat anyone who comes to their emergency rooms, and they’re spending about $600 million a year on charity care.  Meanwhile, state lawmakers refuse to expand Medicaid, and the federal government is cutting payments for Medicare.  Unless something is done,  some hospitals say they may be forced to close.  

Patricia Springer owns a small business – Moonbeam Massage.  She’s happy to help people who’ve suffered an injury or illness, but since the great recession began, business has been slow.

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A Virginia child advocacy organization has a new take on "No Child Left Behind"—that is, making sure all children in Virginia have health insurance.

And while that is possible right now, Voices for Virginia's Children says that could change in the very near future if federal lawmakers don't act.

The good news, according to Voices' Margaret Nimmo Crowe, is that Virginia’s rate of uninsured children is 5.4% — which is relatively low. However there are still more than 100,000 children in Virginia who are uninsured.

Many Virginians don't have health insurance,  but that number is dwarfed by those who can't afford oral health care.

Because poor dental hygiene also leads to other health problems, Virginia lawmakers are now studying the most feasible ways to address the problem.