Louisiana’s largest health insurer, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana, expects hundreds of people to turn out for an information fair Saturday in Shreveport. Organizers aim to help people better understand their options in the federal healthcare marketplace, according to James Bustillo, regional marketing director for Blue Cross. Dozens of Blue Cross staff will work the event, Bustillo says, and are qualified to answer questions about available subsidies and insurance plans.
As of last month, 32,900 Louisianans had purchased a plan through healthcare.gov, and Bustillo says it’s likely that the majority chose a Blue Cross plan.
“Blue Cross is one of only two carriers in the state that is participating on the healthcare marketplace that offers policies and in-network doctors and hospitals in all 64 parishes in the state of Louisiana," Bustillo told Red River Radio.
The open enrollment period ends on March 31, which has insurers racing to get people informed about what is available to them, according to Heather Howard, director of the state network program for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
“From the insurers’ prospective, this is opening up a new market. If you step back and think about the situation in Louisiana, there are nearly 805,000 uninsured people in the state. That’s about 17 percent of the population," Howard said.
Bustillo says people are confused about what subsidies are available to them, and they’re up against a deadline to figure out what path they will choose for their healthcare.
"They have heard that they’ve got to have coverage. They don’t know anything about the cutoff dates. They don’t know anything about the open enrollment. They know very little about healthcare.gov. So, what we want to do is to invite people to our house to be able to get the answers to their questions," Bustillo said.
The information fair runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Shreveport office, 411 Ashley Ridge Boulevard.
In a related effort, trained navigators will also be set up in front of Sears at Mall St. Vincent beginning at 10 a.m. Saturday, as part of a city of Shreveport effort to increase healthcare enrollment.