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Affordable Care Act 101: The role of navigators and brokers

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 Utah) – Open enrollment for the Affordable Care Act has been underway for more than a month now.
SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 Utah) – Open enrollment for the Affordable Care Act has been underway for more than a month now.

Most people are finding it isn’t so easy to navigate the system, but there is help for those struggling to find their way.

Navigators were created under the new law.

They are trained individuals with the sole job of helping people get through the system.

“There’s navigators or what they call certified application counselors all over the state of Utah. Within clinics, within community organizations, nonprofits,” said Randal Serr, Director of Take Care Utah.

Not just anyone, navigators must be certified first.

“They have to go through 20 hours of very detailed, extensive training about health insurance, about these new options,” said Serr.

According to Serr that training also includes privacy and security regulations.

Navigators must pass a background check and carry liability insurance as well.

Mary Haulde is a certified navigator, with Utah Health Policy Project.

“We’ll sit down at the computer with them and walk them through it,” said Haulde.

She says a navigator will help create an account, walk clients through the application and enrollment process and help them figure out if they qualify for subsidies under the law.

She says a navigator is free of charge and impartial.

“We can take them all the way through the process up to the point where they will choose their own plan,” said Haulde.

There is help for those wanting to take it a step further.

Some brokers are also certified under the Affordable Care Act to help clients navigate the market place, but they can also help in narrowing down the options and beyond.

“After the plan is chosen we can help them with ongoing service. Weather that’s a bill that doesn’t seem correct or they ask about trying to find a provider,” said Lloyd Coleman, President of the Utah Association of Health Underwriters.

Coleman says brokers out number navigators 10 to 1 across the state.

One difference is brokers are making money from the sale, but Coleman insists it doesn’t cost the client any extra money.

“All those prices do include a commission that goes to a broker and so whether they use a broker or not they’re still paying a broker on the back end of doing that,” said Coleman.

You can find a navigator or a broker online.

For navigators go to takecareutah.org, type in your zip code and it will generate a list for you.

You can also call 211 from your phone if you don’t have internet access.

To find a broker go to enrollnowutah.com, there you will be able to search for certified brokers near you.

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