[Editor’s note: With significant portions of the Affordable Care Act to be implemented starting on Jan. 1, 2014, the Kokomo Tribune will run a series that explores how the personal responsibility mandate, the expansion of Medicaid and the new health exchanges will affect consumers.]
Q: I have looked at healthcare.gov and am having a hard time figuring out which plan would be the best for me. Where can I get help?
A: There will be a number of different ways that people can determine the best health insurance plan for them through the traditional use of the telephone or on the Internet.
Kathy Young, CEO of St. Joseph Hospital, saidy there is an online chat option, an online ‘question and answer’ database, an online wizard, and assistance from local people who have been specially trained to support consumers in choosing their health insurance plan.
Jessica Lyons, a financial planner with Bucheri McCarty & Metz, said there will be navigators available to assist with the selection of the health insurance plan through the Marketplace.
“Navigators are certified by the state and are impartial advisors,” she said. “They cannot receive compensation from the sale of insurance or from health insurance providers.”
Lyons cautioned that navigators cannot make the initial contact for the providing of assistance so individuals should not be tricked into providing confidential information over the telephone or to a door-to-door solicitation.
Craig Dunn, a financial planner at Liberty Financial, said Indiana is in the process of licensing Affordable Care Act navigators who will help consumers make insurance decisions.
Dunn said he believes there is only one licensed navigator in Kokomo at the current time.
“In Howard County there are people trained and certified to help you understand your health coverage options and enroll in a plan,” Young said. “They are known by different names, including Navigators, Application assisters, and Certified application counselors. You may also be able to get help from government agencies, such as State Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program Offices. In addition, insurance agents and brokers can also help you with your application and choices.”