St. Lawrence County Health Initiative to take on role of ‘navigators’ to help people sort through 'Obamacare' health insurance options
Tuesday, August 6, 2013 - 9:28 am

The St. Lawrence County Health Initiative has been awarded a state “Navigator” grant to help individuals, families, businesses, and employees enroll in health insurance through the New York Health Benefit Exchange, according to initiative staff.

The navigator program was set up to assist consumers in learning about and enrolling in the Affordable Care Act’s premium assistance programs and qualified health plans through the health insurance exchanges.

Polls repeatedly have repeatedly shown that many Americans, including those who most need its help, are unaware of the ACA or do not understand how it will help them, according to health policy blogger Timothy Jost at HealthAffairs.org. Furthermore, Jost says, ongoing attacks on the ACA by its opponents continue to confuse and mislead Americans. “Clearly a massive education and outreach program is needed as the ACA is implemented to extend its benefits to all of those whom it is intended to help.”

The ACA made provision for assistance by requiring each exchange to establish a “navigator” program modeled after the successful Medicare SHIP program. The ACA requires navigators to educate the public; provide fair and impartial information concerning qualified health plans, premium tax credits, and cost-sharing reduction payments; and facilitate enrollment in qualified health plans.

In this role as “navigators,” St. Lawrence County Health Initiative staff will:

• provide in-person assistance to those applying for health insurance coverage at the time of initial application and at annual renewal

• offer information on the types of health insurance programs available through the Exchange

• provide application assistance for private and public health insurance programs and advance premium tax credits and cost-sharing reductions, and

• refer consumers to other organizations for help with grievances, complaints or questions regarding health coverage or a determination related to coverage.

Enrollment begins Oct. 1 for coverage effective Jan. 1, 2014.

“We want to be sure that all areas in St. Lawrence County have access to in-person enrollment assistance. Therefore, our Navigators will be on the road across the county during the day, evening, and on Saturdays,” said Anne Marie Snell of the Health Initiative.

A schedule will be available at www.gethealthyslc.org/ beginning in September.

To make an appointment after Sept. 15 contact Snell at 261-4760 ext. 222 or anne@gethealthyslc.org.