Story by Kat Skeldon, MetroNews

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Those uninsured will get a free and guided opportunity to sign up for health insurance coverage during the first Cover WV Day set for Tuesday across West Virginia.

More than 20 organizations will come together to offer health insurance registration assistance at more than 35 locations across the state.

Jeremy Smith

The West Virginia Primary Care Association, the WV Navigator Program, and the state Office of the Insurance Commissioner are among the non-profits and community health centers to join the effort that day to assist those who need medical coverage.

WV Navigator Program Director Jeremy Smith said there will be certified assisters on hand providing free help with Medicaid, Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and Health Insurance Marketplace plan enrollments.

“You will be able to just show up with no appointment and be able to talk with either a Navigator or a Certified Application Counselor who is just, you know, grant-funded to provide free assistance,” Smith said.

The Health Insurance Marketplace’s Open Enrollment period ends Jan. 16.

Smith said the one-day event is a good opportunity to sit down with a health insurance professional and get a look at all of the options they have, as many are likely to qualify for the different programs available.

“We got a lot of really great groups across the state that provides this free assistance every day, it’s just people may not know about it, so we wanted to bring everybody together in one day and just really kind of raise awareness,” he said.

Smith said the state’s Medicaid and Marketplace plans provide some options for most people without coverage. He said four in five people can find a plan on the Marketplace starting at under $10 per month this year.

Smith said while the Mountain State is slightly better than the national average of those uninsured, he said about 6% of West Virginians still lack health insurance coverage and this event is to help make it easier for them to sign up for it.

“We want to make sure that they know there are options, and they can go to one of these trusted sources and get their questions answered,” Smith said.