South Florida Hospital News
Friday February 26, 2021

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October 2013 - Volume 10 - Issue 4

'Navigators' Set to Assist With Insurance Enrollment

"You're going to be hearing a lot of about this," John Foley guaranteed. "This" is the proposal to enroll uninsured people in insurance coverage plans as part of the federal government's Affordable Care Act, and Foley, of the Legal Aid Society, is well acquainted with it because he is project supervisor of the Healthcare Navigator Program of Palm Beach that is assisting with the enrollment. Foley said the LAS applied for and received grant money available for marketplace navigators, as they are called, money "that was offered to states like Florida, where there's no state marketplace."
Foley continued, "There's a huge national effort going on in order to identify individuals who are uninsured. Palm Beach County, for example, has 300,000 uninsured individuals. So we're going to be holding outreach efforts, community events; we'll be partnering with other agencies, and really trying to get the word out, letting people know how beneficial this is."
He explained that enrollment starts October 1, and people must be enrolled by December 15 in order to have coverage begin January 1, 2014. With regard to the insurance itself, Foley said, "All of the policies are issued in accord with the Affordable Care Act, which means they have to have certain minimum levels of coverage and essential benefits in order to be certified to the state."
The insurance companies themselves will be trying to enroll people directly, but enrollment handled in the federal marketplace can be done through an online system. Foley said the program will list all of the plans that are available and licensed in Florida and provide coverage in the particular county where the individuals reside. However, not everyone has access to computers or, even if they do, they may not be comfortable using such a program.
"From what I've seen of the program, it should be about as easy as ordering a book off Amazon; but again, if it's somebody's first time ordering a book, it can be a little tricky. Our job is to facilitate all of that and to assist them based upon their individual needs – where they live, if they have any specific problems, if they have any preferences as to how they receive their medical care. Then we would help them select the plan that best meets the needs of them and their family."
In order to handle the enrollment, Foley said, "(LAS) will be using some existing staff members and we're also hiring others. We're going to employ a team of six navigators, five of them will be in the field, and we'll have a virtual navigator who will assist with phone banks and dealing with the website. We will hold outreaches at public libraries and other events where computers are available. Each of our staff will be outfitted with wireless netbooks so that they can get Internet access wherever they go. And people can use our computers to sign up in the marketplace."
Before the process begins, however, Foley said all of the navigators must go through a vigorous, 20-hour, online course. "I've taken it and I'm telling you, this is one killer test. It goes into not just how the laws work, what the benefits are, but it also goes into privacy standards. It was a very good thing."
He added that the federal government has placed very strict guidelines on confidentiality of individuals. "The governor also was concerned and has raised some issues regarding protecting this information. But all of the navigators will undergo extensive background checks, including criminal background checks."
Additionally, Foley said LAS will utilize volunteers for distributing written materials and providing information to people, but they will have to go through the same course and background checks as the regular navigators. The volunteers will also receive additional in-house training on how to deliver the services, and how to strictly protect the individuals' confidentiality.
"The navigators are completely independent and unbiased, and they have no affiliation with insurance companies or health care providers. They have no interest other than helping people select the best policy for them. It's going to be a test, because in Palm Beach County there are currently nine insurance companies offering 86 different policies. There is going to be an effort to make sure that people get the policies that work for them.
"It's really a good program, it's a first step in getting coverage for people. A lot of individuals are going to be served."

For more information: in Palm Beach County call (561) 655-8944 ext. 366; toll-free call (800) 403-9353 ext. 366; or send an email to

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