Local News

ACA event helps migrant workers sign up for health insurance

Posted July 12, 2015 6:52 p.m. EDT
Updated July 12, 2015 10:21 p.m. EDT

— After picking fruits and vegetables from North Carolina fields for 17 years, Alfredo Montoya now has health insurance.

The 48-year-old father of four from Mexico was at Episcopal Farmworker Ministry in Dunn on Sunday to sign up for insurance under the Affordable Care Act at an event sponsored by Get Covered America and the North Carolina Farmworkers Project.

Though the ACA open enrollment period has passed, those experiencing certain life events – including marriage, moving or a change in immigration status – may be eligible for a special enrollment period.

Those like Montoya, who enter the United States on an agricultural work visa, are eligible under the special enrollment period.

"Here in Eastern North Carolina, where the tobacco grows tall and lush, Mexican farm workers arrive in healthy numbers every summer, and they say signing up will help keep them healthy," said Caitlin Metzguer with Enroll America.

Workers must sign up within 60 days of arriving in North Carolina. Once enrolled, their health plan covers basic care – doctor’s visits, physicals and hospital stays. The average cost for health insurance is $80 a month.

“The great news in North Carolina is that 93 percent of the people that enrolled get that financial assistance to help pay for it,” Metzguer said.

For Montoya, he says having health insurance gives him peace of mind while doing “hard, hot” work.