Affordable Care Act — ACA

SIGN-UP BY DEC. 15 – Enrollment for the 2020 Health Insurance Marketplace ends Dec. 15. Take advantage of free, in-person help with trained professionals via an appointment or free walk-in events. There will be one Dec. 12 in Canton.

Time is running out for consumers to sign up for quality, affordable health insurance for 2020 through the ACA marketplace at

Enrollment ends Dec. 15, and free, one-on-one assistance is available with trained experts to help local people understand their options and get covered.

There will be a walk-in event from 12:30 – 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 12 at the Haywood County branch library, 11 Pennsylvania Ave., Canton. For information, call 828-452-1447.

Nonprofit Pisgah Legal Services (PLS) partners with other WNC organizations to offer this free assistance. The guidance is important especially this year, as many are confused about short-term or off-market “junk plans” versus comprehensive health plans.

Short-term, off-market plans offer cheaper premiums, but may not protect people with preexisting conditions or cover expensive hospital stays, among other issues.

“The best thing for folks to do is to take advantage of the free, un-biased help that is being offered locally and sit down with trained experts who can explain the pros and cons of these different health plans,” said Shannon Cornelius, Pisgah Legal’s Health Justice Program Director. “Then the consumer can make an informed decision.

“We’re seeing some folks come back year after year to work with us, and we’re still seeing some people get enrolled for the first time ever,” Cornelius said. “People want that peace of mind, knowing they are insured, having access to preventative care and getting covered in case they have a catastrophic health emergency.”

Appointments can be made online at or by calling 828-210-3404 or toll free 855-733-3711.

Financial assistance is still available to those who qualify. Last year, more than 90 percent of North Carolinians who enrolled for coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace received financial assistance to make their plans more affordable.

Free, in-person help with trained professionalsPisgah Legal Services (PLS), a nonprofit that provides free legal aid, and other Enrollment Partners of WNC participating organizations give local residents free, unbiased health insurance information and enrollment assistance in the NC Health Insurance Marketplace. These organizations include: Blue Ridge Community Health Services, Council on Aging of Buncombe County, Legal Aid of North Carolina, Mountain Projects, Inc., Pisgah Legal Services, Western Carolina Medical Society and WNC Community Health Services.

Consumers who wish to meet with a Pisgah Legal Services may also schedule an appointment at the Pisgah Legal Service office, 62 Charlotte St., Asheville, or at other locations around WNC.

In addition to appointments, these walk-in events are happening:

• 12:30 – 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 12, at the Haywood County branch library, 11 Pennsylvania Ave., Canton. Call 828-452-1447.

• 10:30 a.m. — 3:30 p.m. Saturday Dec. 14, Jackson County Library, 310 Keener St., Sylva.

The ACA (Affordable Care Act) — also known as Obamacare — is the law that ensures access to quality, affordable health insurance on the Health Insurance Marketplace. With these plans, consumers are protected and: Can’t be denied coverage for a pre-existing health condition and can’t be dropped for getting sick; Insurers can’t charge higher premiums to women; and Insurers can’t sell substandard plans that don’t pay for essential health care benefits.

Pisgah Legal is providing assistance with this year’s Open Enrollment thanks to funding from the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust. The Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust was established in 1947 and is now one of the largest private trusts in North Carolina. Their mission is to improve the health and quality of life of residents with low incomes in North Carolina.

For more than 40 years, Pisgah Legal has provided free civil legal aid to help low-income people meet their basic needs, such as protection from domestic violence, avoiding homelessness, and accessing health care and increase income. Visit

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