Consumers were greeted with lots of changes in the Health Insurance Marketplace on November 1, when open enrollment for 2022 ushered in. New this year, there are more carriers to choose from, enhanced telehealth options and generous financial incentives. In addition, open enrollment is extended to January 15, 2022, giving consumers more time to shop for an affordable health insurance policy.

On top of all this, a new agent, and twice-designated Marketplace Champion, is available to help.

A new law, the American Rescue Plan (ARP) was passed in March 2021 and provides extra tax credits towards health insurance. This significantly lowers people’s monthly payments. Actually, 4 out of 5 people were able to enroll in plans that cost around $10 month. Many people found policies that cost them nothing (after tax credit)

Dispelling misconceptions, Affordable Care plans aren’t second-rate government hand-outs. They are earned tax credits that allow consumers to buy quality, comprehensive health plans offered by major carriers – plans that retail for more than $700 per month. Plans that And they are required to offer doctor visits, emergency care, preventive care, hospital care, and prescription drugs, as well as essential health benefits like chronic disease management, rehabilitation, mental health services & substance use cessation – to name a few.

Also new this year are the carriers servicing Northeast NC. From two carriers last year, (Blue Cross Blue Shield NC and Cigna Health), consumers now have more options for coverage with Friday Health, Aetna CVS and WellCare of North Carolina. All five carriers offer competitive pricing and benefits, and they are now accepted locally.

Further reflecting changes in the health insurance marketplace, telehealth visits are a popular new benefit in 2022 plans. Free mental health services and one-minute clinic visits are a few services that consumers will be able to access from their tablets or computers, made possible by major medical insurance.

This is especially helpful in rural areas.

According to the NC Office of Rural Health, roughly 12 percent of North Carolinians are uninsured. Coupled with long drives to access medical services, lack of public transportation and limited technology access, that percentage is likely higher in rural communities. It’s certainly felt more in a small town.

Rural is part of Currituck’s charm and new proprietress and In’Shore’ance Agent Megan Spencer Shaw understands that. Hailing from rural Hyde County, Shaw’s office is in Point Harbor, where she specializes in Affordable Care health insurance, especially for the underserved communities. She was recognized in 2020 for her track record of helping the uninsured, earning her a spot in the Circle of Champions with the Health Insurance Marketplace. She was recognized again, twice, earlier this year for helping uninsured during the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency and Special Enrollment Period.

Because of her commitment and support to clients during this critical time, she was awarded the 2021 “Connecting Consumers with Coverage Award,” which earned her designation as a “Champion for Coverage” from the Centers for Medicare Services.

“Through your commitment you are making an impact in your community by helping uninsured and underserved Americans access health insurance coverage,” states the designation. Shaw said that she’s especially honored to help small-town-folks, like herself, get access to healthcare.

Premier changes in the 2022 marketplace include more carrier options, different access trends and generous tax breaks. And, folks in the northeast also have a local “Champion” to assist in 2022 enrollment.  Shaw’s In’Shore’ance office is located in the Magnolia, Suite 1, at the Harbinger Center, 8845 Caratoke Hwy.  in Point Harbor. Contact her for an appointment at 252-489-0660 or log onto for more information.