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Southwest Spotlight this week talks with Jeffery Bustamante of beWellnm about the New Mexico health



CRISS:  This is Southwest Spotlight on the KENW Public Radio Network.  With me now is Jeffery Bustamante, CEO of beWellnm.  And Jeffery will you tell me what beWellnm is and what you do for people here in the state.


BUSTAMANTE:  Absolutely. so beWellnm is the New Mexico Health Insurance Exchange. We're the organization that helps New Mexicans explore their options for health insurance coverage. We offer free local help across the state. We're the only place that New Mexicans can go to get assistance in lowering those monthly payments or the payments even when they go to their doctor as part of their overall health insurance coverage. So, if individuals don't qualify for Medicaid or coverage with their employer, they oftentimes come to us.


CRISS:  You have something important going on right now. Can you tell our listeners about that?


BUSTAMANTE:  We do. We have an open enrollment period. Sometimes you're hearing it also referenced as a special enrollment period. It started on February 15th and runs until May 15th. But this is an opportunity for individuals to explore their coverage. Figure out what they qualify for. Use some of that financial assistance I mentioned earlier and pick a plan. And usually, when you've seen an enrollment period like this, it's been in the fall. November/ December timeframe. But it has been reopened given the COVID-19 pandemic.  And really, all of the decisions and challenges that New Mexicans are facing to help them make sure they keep their health insurance. With that said, where it's different from the fall open enrollment. Is let's say you got signed up on November 1st or 15th, your affectively the first day of your health insurance would be January 1st. That's different right now if you signed up today, February. Your coverage would start on March 1st. And that's true throughout. so, if you sign up whatever month it is, the first of the next month will be when your health insurance starts.


CRISS:  So, anyone who Contacts you by February 28th will start their insurance in March.


BUSTAMANTE:  That's correct, and you can contact us on our website, it's beWellnm.com. We also have free local help. We have a toll-free number; you can also on our website schedule a virtual appointment where we can help you in the comfort of your own home.


CRISS:  There's a large number of people who need insurance in this state. Isn't there who are going without insurance.


BUSTAMANTE:  There absolutely is there are for the exchange for beWellnm.  There are about 56,000 New Mexicans who qualify for some sort of financial assistance.  And we've been asking New Mexicans, and in every opportunity, are you one of them?  So, we would ask people you know really reach out to us and talk to us and see if you are one of those people who can get a plan much cheaper than they realize. 


CRISS:  We want to make sure that people understand, it discounts for dependence as well, wives, children and so forth.


BUSTAMANTE:  It does we can help make sure that your entire family is covered even if you're not covered with us. Our local help is there to serve you. Our local help is there to answer your questions help you understand who qualifies for what.  And that is something in New Mexico where perhaps your children are on Medicaid. But the parents need to enroll in the exchange. We will help solve all of those questions that people may have when they come to us.


CRISS:  Alright.  And the way to get to you right now during this very difficult period of time with the COVID-19 pandemic is online. That was the easiest way for me to get in touch with you, and it's very easy to get your website, by the way. I want to say that I just searched for beWellnm and got your phone number and a very nice website, and I could have asked lots of questions, and it would have been easy for me. Is that correct?


BUSTAMANTE:  Thank you for that. And you can. We also have that one 800 number I mentioned earlier. That's 1-833-862-3935, and if somebody really just needs to talk to someone who's local to them. We can get that sorted out as well in a very safe way.


CRISS:  Well, thank you very much for talking with me, Jeffery. You have a great cause, and we hope that a number of those people in need of insurance will get in touch with you.


BUSTAMANTE:  Well, thank you, and I appreciate the opportunity, and really just, in general, we are proud of our opportunity to serve New Mexico.


CRISS:  This is Don Criss, and this has been Southwest Spotlight