How to find healthcare navigators in the marketplace

Trained navigators and application counselors are available to help consumers determine and enroll in the healthcare insurance that is right for them.

The Health Insurance Marketplace opened on Oct. 1. Many Americans logged on to HealthCare.gov to create a login, explore insurance options and begin the application process. Michigan State University Extension wants you to know you are not alone and that there are resources available to assist in selecting the right insurance for you.

Health insurance navigators are available to assist, unbiased and free of charge. The role of the navigator is to guide individuals through their health care choices. Navigators are individuals who have been employed by one of four organizations that received federal dollars to assist Michiganders in the application process. Those organizations are Michigan Consumers for Healthcare, Community Bridges Management, Inc., the Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services (ACCESS) and the American Indian Health and Family Services of Southeastern Michigan.

The other individuals who are available to assist consumers are certified applicant counselors. Certified applicant counselors are also trained, but they may have a conflict of interest – in that they may be working for insurance companies or hospitals. Consumers should be aware of this and may want to ask the counselors about their affiliations before working with them.

In November MSU Extension will be offering consumer education about making healthcare choices in the marketplace. Through Smart Choice participants will determine what they want from health care providers, compare healthcare plans, determine the cost of the plans and will apply what they learn to make the right choice in healthcare plans for them. Both face-to-face and online workshops will be offered. Workshops will be listed after Oct. 28 at www.msue.msu.edu.

To find a health insurance navigator in your area, visit HealthCare.gov at https://localhelp.healthcare.gov/ or the Enroll Michigan site, operated by Michigan Consumers for Healthcare at http://enrollmichigan.com/find-your-navigator/.

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