New Navigator Grants to Aid Enrollment in ACA Health Insurance
Today, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) made an important investment in helping consumers sign up for marketplace health insurance during the upcoming enrollment period, which runs from November 1, 2015, through January 31, 2016. HHS awarded $67 million in navigator grants to 100 organizations from 34 states to deliver the in-person assistance that has proven essential to the enrollment process. We congratulate all those who received funding and applaud HHS for continuing to support these critical positions.
With longer grant period, HHS recognizes consumers’ need for ongoing assistance
Of the 100 organizations receiving funding, 67 also received grants last year. (See full list of grant recipients)
One big change this year is that HHS awarded the grants for three years, with 12-month budget cycles. This shift to three-year funding brings stability to enrollment assisters in the 34 states that receive federal funding for navigators. The longer timeframe also begins to address the importance of ongoing enrollment assistance beyond the open enrollment period.
Navigator grants help address demand for in-person assistance
The experience of the first two enrollment periods showed that navigators and other enrollment assisters play an integral role in the enrollment process.
The high demand for in-person assistance increases during open enrollment periods. In the second open enrollment period, for example, 22 percent of assister and navigator programs had to turn consumers away during the last two weeks because the demand exceeded capacity.
These awards have the potential to increase the capacity of programs to respond to the volume of individual consumers seeking assistance during the next open enrollment period. Some consumers will be enrolling for the first time, while others will need assistance figuring out if the plan they selected is right for them.
Navigators are critical not only to helping consumers get covered, but also helping them keep their coverage
Navigators perform a wide range of activities, from community outreach and public education to helping consumers address problems with health insurance that arise after they’ve enrolled.
The longer HHS grant timeline will allow navigator organizations to engage in long-term planning and reach out to underserved communities and consumers with special needs.
Families USA is committed to serving as a resource to enrollment assisters across the country
As open enrollment approaches, Families USA is here to support navigators. Navigators and other assisters can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org with any enrollment questions or other needs. Get ready for the third open enrollment period by checking out these resources:
- Tips for Helping Consumers Enroll
- Helping Consumers Pick a Plan that Meets Their Health Needs
- How Enrollment Assisters and Insurers Can Partner