Navigators Are Essential in Enrolling Newly-Eligible Texans in Health Coverage
I recently testified in support of HB 459 which authorizes the ACA Navigator program in state law and coordinates state-level oversight with the federal exchange to prevent duplication. I reminded committee members that in 2014, individuals can enroll in Medicaid, CHIP, and private coverage through the exchange, and Navigators are one form of in-person assistance that will help people through the eligibility and enrollment process. Navigators will bridge the divide of existing in-person assistance—community-based organizations that help people understand and enroll in Medicaid, CHIP, and Medicare, and health insurance agents that help people understand and enroll in private coverage.
In February, the center hosted a webinar to help community groups across the state better understand Navigators under the Affordable Care Act. ACA Navigators will provide knowledgeable, in-person enrollment assistance to consumers and small employers in the Health Insurance Marketplace (formerly called an exchange).
With one out of every four residents uninsured, Texas will need an all-hands-on-deck approach to getting the uninsured enrolled in 2014. Texas will need every available enrollment expert—including Navigators, health insurance agents, and more—to effectively reach out and provide in-person assistance to this new population of enrollees.
Three of four people who will be eligible for coverage through the new Marketplace say they want in-person assistance to help to learn about and enroll in coverage. Navigators will help meet this increased demand for in-person enrollment assistance and can tailor outreach efforts to Marketplace enrollees who are lower income, less educated, more likely to be uninsured, more racially and ethnically diverse, and more likely to speak a foreign language than people who are insured today.
Within the next month or so, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will release a funding announcement for Navigator grants that will allow eligible local organizations, such as community and consumer-focused nonprofit groups, professional associations, Chambers of Commerce, unions, and insurance agents and brokers, to apply to be Navigators through the federal Marketplace in Texas.
Written by: Stacey Pogue, Center for Public Policy Priorities and cross-posted from Better Texas blog