This week in Washington—signing people up for health insurance in the new marketplaces. You are tuning in to the health policy update from America’s Essential Hospitals for the Week of Sept. 23.
The new health insurance marketplaces will open in just one week. On Oct. 1, people in every state will begin shopping for and signing up for marketplace health insurance plans. In preparation for this, the federal government and the states are involved in both broad promotion activities and specific outreach and enrollment programs. The goal is to provide people with information about the new marketplaces and encourage them to sign up for coverage.
On a large scale, the federal government is directing people to healthcare.gov to learn about the new health insurance marketplaces and the types of insurance the marketplaces will sell. States running their own marketplaces have established similar websites, and many states are advertising their marketplaces on the radio, TV, and at in-person events.
In addition to these efforts, marketplaces will run specific programs to help local consumers learn about what insurance and financial assistance options are available to them.
One of these programs involves insurance navigators. Navigator programs will raise awareness about marketplace health insurance plans and help individuals understand the types of plans are available through the marketplaces. According to the federal government, navigators can be community organizations, trade or professional associations, chambers of commerce, or unions. Navigator programs will be established in all marketplaces.
Similarly, all marketplaces will establish certified application counselor programs. In this program, staff members and volunteers of hospitals, community health centers, and other social service agencies will provide one-on-one assistance as people shop and submit applications for health insurance through the marketplace.
Certified application counselors are unique because they allow local organizations to help people enroll in insurance plans through the marketplace. Counselors can also help people enroll in Medicaid, and many counselors will already have experience helping people apply for Medicaid. As such, certified application counselors will be well positioned to help people find and enroll in the right plan for them.
Nationwide, activities that give local organizations like essential hospitals a role in outreach and enrollment will be especially important. Essential hospitals work with many people who have limited access to information because they lack Internet access or face language barriers. Essential hospitals like our members will continue to help the most vulnerable people access the information they need to enroll in health insurance coverage through the new marketplaces.
Thanks for listening to another edition of This Week in Washington. I’m Erin Richardson; join us next week as we continue our discussion of health insurance marketplaces.