ACA navigator training

When you enroll for a health plan in the new Michigan Health Insurance Marketplace beginning Oct. 1, you won’t have to go it alone. There will be live navigators available to help.

These are folks who have received many hours of training to help the public get what they need through the new health insurance exchange. They must pass a test to become certified.

Navigators are required to provide fair, accurate, impartial information to consumers. They are also trained to protect and secure applicants’ personally identifiable information, such as Social Security Numbers, home addresses and birth dates.

“Navigators must provide help to consumers that focuses only on their best interests,” said Phillip Berquist, director of health care center operations for the Michigan Primary Care Association, during a navigator training session at Lansing Community College. The session was sponsored by Michigan Consumers for Healthcare.

For the purposes of Michigan Health Insurance Marketplace enrollment there are 10 regions in the state. Complete lists of navigators by region will be available by Oct. 1 here: http://enrollmichigan.com/find-your-navigator/

Navigators are there to provide information, guidance and assistance, not to determine eligibility or to choose your health coverage.

Berquist told navigator trainees: “You cannot steer or direct anyone toward or away from a particular health plan.”

Navigators also will help consumers understand eligibility for tax credits and cost-sharing subsidies. These are only available to people who apply for health coverage through the exchange. It is estimated that 750,000 Michiganders will be eligible for credits.

There will be at least 12 insurers competing for customers in the Michigan Health Insurance Marketplace. A final list will be available on Oct. 1.

The initial enrollment period for the Marketplace will run from Oct. 1 to March 31. Those who intend to buy insurance on the exchange by Jan. 1, 2014 when the new health care law takes effect must enroll by Dec. 15.