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Thursday, November 15, 2012

How Exchanges Can Use Assisters

Online applications are great, but if you are like me, you may want to talk with an expert  the first time you complete one for health insurance. You might want to talk through how you are comparing health plan choices to see if there are any important considerations that you are missing. Or you might have questions about premium credits and whether to take them in advance or at the end of the year.

The Affordable Care Act provides for consumer assistance in several ways. All exchanges will use navigators to help consumers. Navigators might range from community-based organizations to trade associations, groups that already have relationships with people who need to buy coverage, and people will be able to get one-on-one assistance from these groups. But just to be sure there is enough assistance in every state, the Department of Health and Human Services will also fund other in-person assisters to help during the first two years of enrollment in the new health insurance exchanges. Since everyone will be doing this for the first time, the first two years of enrollment in exchanges are when people will likely need the most help. By funding both navigators and in-person assisters, the Affordable Care Act ensures that everyone will be able to get the help they need.

A new paper explains that states and groups that are suited to provide consumer assistance should be making their plans now to provide it.