Lakeshore News Tonight

Affordable Care Act Navigators Ready to Insure

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September 24, 2013 — The countdown is on to open enrollment in the Affordable Care Act’s health insurance marketplace.

Certain elements of the Affordable Care Act, often called Obama Care, will go in effect in just one week for some employers.  The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) issued a report stating many small businesses are still confused, as are many uninsured citizens, about the individual health care mandate that goes into effect at the start of next year.

“Come October 1, people who are uninsured below 400% of poverty, actually for a family of four, that’s $96,000 a year.  I think people think that, coming in what we call the healthcare marketplace, is really for poor people. It’s for a variety of incomes,” said Beth Wrobel, HealthLinc CEO.

Wrobel oversees one of three federally qualified health centers in Northwest Indiana.  She is already planning for the federal government marketplace set-up.

The online-based health system will allow individuals to share their income, residence and family size.   In return, experts in the marketplace will direct them to the proper insurance available such as Medicaid or state based health insurance for people who do not qualify for Medicaid.

Wrobel said a $175,000 federal grant will help train and employ a team of people who will qualify the large underserved population in HealthLinc’s service area for insurance, “There’s 140,000 people who could qualify through this marketplace that are uninsured today.  Even though it sounded like a lot of money when we first got it, it’s a huge undertaking.”

More than 40 individuals answered the call to become navigators, guiding people who need health insurance to the right plans.  Carla Baxter, the Principal Consultant for Baxter and Associates Consulting Services, LLC, is a certified instructor for the State of Indiana’s enrollment certification process. 

“It’s an exam of 60 questions and they must receive at least a 70% on the exam to pass,” said Baxter.

Once state certification is met, a conflict of interest disclosure form must be completed along with a background criminal check.  Besides Navigators, uninsured Hoosiers can visit www.healthcare.gov.

Baxter said the process, which can be difficult, will be easier when assisted by someone who knows the ropes, “Navigators, certified application counselors, those individuals can assist residents in their respective communities as well as patients.  If it’s in a hospital, they can provide that assistance face to face, providing unbiased, accurate information about options that are available to them.”

“You can’t tell something and sell something that you don’t know yourself.  So, making people come to this training is helping the community and helping us give out information so that we can’t false interpret anything to anybody,” said Lashauna Blackman Butler, Outreach Specialist for Community HealthNet.

Those who are uninsured can visit any hospital or visit www.healthcare.gov starting October 1.

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