Health-coverage open enrollment is underway. Here’s what to know in NC’s Border Belt

By Ivey Schofield

The enrollment period for federally subsidized health plans opened this week, which could be an opportunity for many people in southeastern North Carolina. 

The Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare and enacted in 2010, expanded Medicaid coverage and lowered the cost of health insurance for some U.S. residents.

Across North Carolina, 13% of residents under the age of 65 don’t have health insurance, according to County Health Rankings. Rates are higher in the Border Belt region: 19% in Robeson County, 17% in Bladen County, 15% in Columbus County and 14% in Scotland County. 

Here’s what to know to get insured for the upcoming year. 

How do I enroll?

To enroll in a 2023 health plan, you must fill out an application.

You can do this online at, by phone (1-800-318-2596) or by mail.

To apply by mail, print out the application online and send it to Health Insurance Marketplace, Dept. of Health and Human Services, 465 Industrial Blvd., London, KY, 40750. 

You will need several pieces of information, including your name and birth date, spouse and dependents, home address, Social Security number, expenses, income, employer and current health coverage. 

You can compare health plans and prices of dozens of options in your area. 

Some, but not all, health plans have dental insurance. If the plan includes dental, the premium will cover health and dental coverage. If it does not, you will need to pick a separate dental plan with a separate premium. 

How much does it cost?

The cost of coverage depends on location, age, tobacco use and number of dependents. Medical history cannot affect the premium. 

There are three categories of full-priced plans available: bronze, silver and gold. 

Bronze has the lowest monthly premium but the highest deductible and the least covered cost. The average monthly cost is about $477 in Bladen, $484 in Columbus, $487 in Robeson and $487 in Scotland.

Gold has the highest monthly premium but the lowest deductible and the most covered cost. The average monthly cost is $677 in Bladen, $688 in Columbus, $691 in Robeson and $691 in Scotland. 

Silver is the in-between option. The average monthly cost is $614 in Bladen, $625 in Robeson, $625 in Scotland and $644 in Columbus.

When can I get coverage?

For those who enroll by Dec. 15, coverage will begin Jan. 1, 2023. 

The last day to enroll in a 2023 health plan is Jan. 15, 2023. After that, only people who qualify for a special enrollment period – such as those who lose health coverage, move, get married or have a baby – can enroll or change plans.

For those who enroll or change plans between Dec. 16, 2022, and Jan. 15, 2023, coverage will begin Feb. 1. 

You will have to pay your premium for your coverage to start.