Connecticut Gearing Up For Obamacare

Access Health CT, Connecticut’s official health insurance marketplace, will be enrolling thousands of uninsured or underinsured Connecticut residents in affordable, quality health coverage beginning on October 1, 2013.  Access Health CT has partnered with the Office of the Healthcare Advocate to launch the Navigator and Assister Outreach Program, a program that focuses on making it easier for individuals to enroll in health coverage.

The Navigator and Assister Outreach Program will assist in the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) by involving community-based organizations to bring the health coverage marketplace to the people.  The program will engage the community in ways that are sensitive to different languages and cultures when educating and enrolling consumers in a health plan.

“The program is designed to reach people where they live,” said Kate Gervais, Manager of the Navigator and Assister Outreach Program.  “The Assisters speak more than 30 languages and have deep ties to their communities.  We believe this will provide consumers with the security and comfort they need when making important decisions about their healthcare.”

There are six Navigator organizations across the state – Southwestern AHEC, Inc. in the Fairfield region; the Hispanic Health Council in the Hartford region; New Opportunities, Inc. in the Litchfield region; the City Of New Haven Department Of Health in the New Haven region; Eastern AHEC, Inc. in the New London and Middlesex region; and The ACCESS Agency, Inc. in the Tolland and Windham region.  These Navigator organizations take the lead in organizing regional and community-wide outreach strategies as well as providing support to Assisters in their region.

There are approximately 300 Assister Candidates throughout Connecticut that are currently on the Certification track.  Assisters are individuals who work at community-based organizations that will engage, educate and enroll consumers in health coverage, bringing Access Health CT to consumers in their own communities.  These individuals are the key contact between consumers and the marketplace.  Areas of the state with higher numbers of uninsured will have more Assisters. Hartford, Fairfield and New Haven counties will have the highest concentration of the Assisters to help consumers throughout the enrollment process. Brokers, who have participated in Access Health CT training, also play a key role in the enrollment process by recommending specific plans for individuals or families.

“Each Navigator and Assister must pass an extensive background check, sign Privacy, Security and Conflict of Interest statements, complete 34-40 hours of training, pass a certification test and carry photo ID badges,” said Connecticut Healthcare Advocate Victoria Veltri.  “We take the privacy concerns of Connecticut residents very seriously and have developed this rigorous process to ensure everyone’s safety and security.”

Navigators have contracts with Access Health CT that run from September 1, 2013 through June 30, 2014.  Assister organizations receive contracts of $6,000 each to support Assisters’ work throughout the open enrollment period beginning October 1, 2013 through March 31, 2014.

“The Navigators and Assisters participating in the program are our link to the communities and individuals we want to reach,” said Kevin Counihan, CEO of Access Health CT. “Without them, it would be much more difficult to get this information out to consumers.  We are here to tell folks that quality, affordable health insurances plans are here and financial help can be had through the Access Health CT marketplace.”

 About Access Health CT

Access Health CT (also known as the Exchange) was created by the Connecticut Legislature in 2011 and is a quasi-public agency established to satisfy requirements of the federal Affordable Care Act.  Its mission is to increase the number of insured residents in Connecticut, promote health, lower costs and eliminate health disparities. Its vision is to provide a simple online shopping and enrollment experience for state residents and small businesses, starting with open enrollment in October 2013.

Access Health CT will ensure that participating health plans meet certain standards, and will facilitate competition and choice by rating the quality of each plan. Individuals and families buying coverage through the Exchange may qualify for tax credits on premiums. The Exchange will also coordinate eligibility and enrollment with state Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Programs. More information is available at www.AccessHealthCT.com

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