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Questions about new health care law? Navigators can help

By Andrew Adams, KSL TV | Posted - Sep 30th, 2013 @ 8:04am



SALT LAKE CITY — Open enrollment begins Tuesday under President Obama's new health care law, and a lot of the uninsured appear unprepared to figure out where to start.

They are, however, getting some help in the form of "navigators."

"My primary responsibility is to help consumers find health insurance," said Jack Wynn, a navigator based out of Murray.

People like Wynn are paid for with federal grant money. They're federally trained, licensed by the state of Utah, and they're required to have the equivalent of professional licensing insurance.

"Our team is going to be going around community health centers as well as safety net clinics," Wynn said.

Wynn said he anticipates fielding even the most basic questions about how insurance works.

"My assumption is that most people really don't know how the Affordable Care Act is going to affect them," said Randal Serr with the Utah Health Policy Project.

Finding a navigator

Navigators can be found online through the federal website healthcare.gov or through takecareutah.org, which is coming online this week.

Serr is the director of Take Care Utah, which is functioning as a center point in Utah for Affordable Care Act information and networking. He said navigators will be tasked with explaining basic health insurance processes, more complicated points too - as well as explaining things like how a tax break will make the healthcare plans more affordable.

"So their rates will drop," Serr continued. "It's a lot less than what it's showing at face value."

Some navigators like Wynn are also trained on additional funding programs, including Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

Insurance Confusion

Nancy Meidell of Salt Lake City remained skeptical that any changes from Pres. Obama's health care law would help her.

She overcame thyroid cancer two years ago, but remains uninsurable until Tuesday's open enrollment because of what has since been considered a pre-existing condition.

Her children are not insured. It's simply expensive and a choice between making other ends meet.

"It's just hard to find an insurance plan that will cover a family in general without costing half your paycheck," Meidell said.

In theory, Meidell stands to benefit from what navigators can offer. Browsing through roughly 80 plans available to Utahns under the new healthcare law has proven daunting and confusing.

Meidell said she wants a plan that doesn't cost too much per month and doesn't have an extreme deductible. She said some insurance options she's seen available online in the $300 per month range included annual deductibles of $10,000, or $40,000 for families.

"I just feel like there's a lot of people out there who are in my situation that are just floundering," she said.

Regardless, navigators like Wynn said they are there to help sort through the challenges and tough decisions.

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