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West Virginia Health Insurance Marketplace

With most of the Affordable Care Act’s major provisions now in effect, the nation’s health insurance marketplace has undergone a significant transformation. Obamacare impacts individuals, families and small business owners alike. Most Americans are required to have minimum essential coverage unless they qualify for an exemption; however, the law is designed to make health insurance more accessible and affordable with income-based financial assistance and one-stop shopping via state-based and federally facilitated exchanges. Meanwhile, the private marketplace remains a place to shop for quality, affordable health insurance plans that meet ACA requirements.

The following guide offers a glimpse at the various types of ACA-compliant health insurance in West Virginia, including individual and family health plans, small group health plans, coverage for high-risk applicants, mini-COBRA continuation coverage, Medicaid, and CHIP.

Health and healthcare in West Virginia

West Virginia ranked 44th in United Health Foundation’s 2014 America’s Health Rankings.1 Its strengths were listed as a low prevalence of binge drinking, a low incidence of infectious diseases, and high per capita health funding. Challenges West Virginia faces include high prevalences of smoking and physical inactivity, high prevalences of obesity and diabetes, and a high rate of preventable hospitalizations. In the pat five years, the percentage of West Virginia children under 18 in poverty decreased from 24 percent to 19 percent.

West Virginia individual and family health insurance

When creating its health insurance exchange under the Affordable Care Act, West Virginia opted for a state-federal partnership model. The state oversees plan management, and the federal government provides the Web portal consumers use to shop for coverage. West Virginians may use the Federal Health Insurance Marketplace website to find individual and family coverage

Individuals and families shopping for private health insurance coverage in West Virginia can also buy qualified plans in the private marketplace through websites such as Check out’s tax subsidy calculator to see if you qualify for a tax credit. If you do, visit West Virginia’s Health Insurance Marketplace to apply for health insurance coverage.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reported that 19,856 individuals in West Virginia selected a marketplace plan through the exchange from Oct. 1, 2013, through April 19, 2014.2 In 2015, the number of individuals in West Virginia enrolled in a marketplace plan increased to 33,421 during the open enrollment period.3

West Virginia’s health insurance exchange:
West Virginia department of insurance:

West Virginia small group health insurance plans

Small business owners with 50 or fewer employees may purchase group health insurance plans through West Virginia’s Health Insurance Marketplace, as well as in the private marketplace. Small businesses that use SHOP and have 25 or fewer employees may qualify for a Small Business Healthcare Tax Credit.

Self-employed individuals with no employees must apply for an individual health insurance plan on or away from West Virginia’s partnership exchange.

West Virginia state COBRA variations for small groups

The Consolidated Omnibus Reconciliation Act (COBRA) allows those employed by businesses with 20 or more employees to continue their group health insurance plan for a limited time should they lose coverage due to qualifying events such as termination of employment due to reasons other than gross misconduct, a reduction in work hours, divorce or legal separation, and loss of dependency status. To learn more about the federal COBRA program, visit

In some states, those who work for a small business and lose health insurance coverage due to a qualifying event may be eligible for health insurance continuation through mini-COBRA or a similar state continuation program. In a few states, these programs may also be extended to those who work for larger companies and exhaust their federal COBRA continuation coverage limit. Mini-COBRA generally works like the federal COBRA continuation coverage, but its terms may vary.

West Virginia’s small group COBRA continuation variations are as follows4:

Mini-COBRA option Yes
Eligible group sizes 2–19
Maximum continuation period – standard 18 months
Maximum premium Increase 100 percent
State legislation reference §114-93-1—§114-93-3
Additional notes9 Covered employees and qualified beneficiaries must elect continuation coverage in writing to the carrier within 30 days of receiving notice of eligibility

West Virginia high-risk pools

It used to be that health insurance companies could deny applicants or charge them more based on health history and preexisting conditions. When the Affordable Care Act was passed in 2010, many states created federally funded preexisting condition insurance programs or accepted federal funding to assist with similar high-risk pool programs they already operated. 5

The Affordable Care Act prohibits this practice for health insurance plans considered minimum essential coverage with effective dates beginning Jan. 1, 2014, and later. As such, the PCIPs and state high-risk pools created to provide health insurance for those once considered uninsurable are being phased out.

West Virginia Medicaid

Medicaid is a state health insurance program for low-income individuals under age 65, pregnant women, children, disabled individuals, and seniors over age 65; it is partially funded by the federal government. In 2014, states were given the option to accept additional federal funding and expand their Medicaid program eligibility to those who make up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level (effectively 138 percent due to how it is calculated, according to

Effective Jan. 1, 2014, West Virginia began expanding Medicaid to low-income adults without dependents in 2014.7 Medicaid/CHIP open enrollment takes place year-round.

The information below is specific to West Virginia’s Medicaid program:

Medicaid expansion No
Governing agency Centers for Medicare & Medicaid
Administrator West Virginia Department of Health & Human Resources Bureau for Medical Services
Where to apply or call the federal call center 24/7 at 800-318-2596 (TTY 855-889-4325)
Phone number 888-483-0797 / 304-348-3365
More information
Open-enrollment period Year-round in all states
Eligibility Based on income in relation to the federal poverty level and specific program eligibility guidelines

West Virginia CHIP

The Children’s Health Insurance Program is a partnership between the states and federal government. CHIP provides health insurance to uninsured children who meet certain eligibility guidelines.

The information below is specific to West Virginia’s health insurance program for low-income children:

Program name West Virginia Children’s Health Insurance
Program WVCHIP
Where to apply or call the federal call center 24/7 at 800-318-2596 (TTY 855-889-4325)
Phone number 877-WVA-CHIP
Eligibility8 U.S. citizens and qualified non-citizens residing in West Virginia, under age 19, not eligible for West Virginia Medicaid, meets income and family size guidelines

1 United Health Foundation. 2014 America’s Health Rankings Annual Edition. “Annual State Health Rankings.”

2 Kaiser Family Foundation

3 Kaiser Family Foundation

4 West Virginia Offices of the Insurance Commissioner. “Title 114 Legislative Rules Insurance Commissioner. Series 93 Mini-COBRA.”

5 National Conference of State Legislators. Coverage of Uninsurable Pre-Existing Conditions: State and Federal High-Risk Pools. Updated April 2014.

6 Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. “Medicaid Expansion & What It Means for You.” N.D.

7 Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. “West Virginia.”

8 West Virginia Children’s Health Insurance Program. “Eligibility.”