By Ken de la Bastide Kokomo Tribune
---- — [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.”
For a list of local organizations that can help you, visit LocalHelp.HealthCare.gov and put your zip code in the search box.
In zip code 46901 you’ll find 93 different options.
The list for Kokomo includes most hospitals and health groups from central Indiana, including locations in Indianapolis, Anderson, Logansport, Peru and Marion.
Want to speak to someone live by telephone? The government operates a toll-free phone line that is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. To speak with someone, call 800-318-2596.
Want to chat with a government representative online? Go to https://www.healthcare.gov/contact-us and click on the green ‘Start Live Chat’ button.
Want to use the online wizard? Go to https://www.healthcare.gov/contact-us and look for the ‘Find Answers Fast’ section, then click on the green ‘Start Now’ button.
Readers can submit their questions on the Affordable Care Act to Enterprise Editor Ken de la Bastide at email@example.com or by mailing them to Kokomo Tribune, care of Ken de la Bastide, 300 N. Union St., Kokomo, IN, 46901.