Affordable Care Act: Navigators


by Jay Crandall

Posted on September 26, 2013 at 7:22 PM

PHOENIX - The new health care coverage options can be complicated and confusing. But there is some guidance out there for those trying to navigate the changes.

"There is help in the form of people called navigators," says Dr. Mary Wakefield of the U.S. Department of Health Services. "The process can be a little bit complicated, and for those who need a little bit extra help in making decisions about which plan to choose, they'll have that assistance through the navigators."

While there will be numerous navigators helping people purchase insurance, the government has awarded four agencies more than $2 million to help offset the costs.

They are: The Arizona Association of Community Health Centers, Greater Phoenix Urban League, the Arizona Board of Regents at the University of Arizona, and Campesinos sin Fronteras. Each group gets a piece of a $2.1 million pie. 

"It is a big task," admits John McDonald with the Association of Community Health Centers. "We're re-engineering how we deliver health care in the United States," he says.

"All four navigators provide services for minorities and disadvantaged communities," says Emma Torres with Campesinos sin Fronteras. "A lot of them are so used to not having any coverage, so used to not accessing any care, that they don't understand the complexity of what is happening."

"They're the hardworking individuals in our community that help us so much with our economy but then they are the least-insured," adds Torres.

As for undocumented workers, Kim Vanpelt  from St. Luke’s Initiative says, “Folks who are undocumented in this country, you can not get health coverage through either Medicaid or through the exchange."

"For the folks who are here legally, who are immigrants, they are able to get coverage through the health insurance marketplace for the first time," says Vanpelt.

While all navigators share a similar purpose, they believe in one philosophy, according to George Dean with the Greater Phoenix Urban League. "Without good health, you don't have anything else going for you," he says.

Navigators will help you figure out which plan is best for you: platinum, gold, silver or bronze. Here are the differences. For platinum, you pay 10 percent out-of-pocket, and insurance would cover 90 percent. The gold plan means 20 percent out-of-pocket. Silver will cost you 30 percent out-of-pocket. And bronze means you pay 40 percent out-of-pocket and your insurance would cover 60 percent.