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Health Care Navigators Are Ready To Go To Work

A recent Pew Research poll found that nationally only a quarter of respondents said they understand “very well” what the effects of the Affordable Care Act will be.

And with the federal health insurance marketplace going online on October 1, that number is unlikely to change before Kansans begin using the system.

The law requires nearly all Americans to carry health insurance beginning in 2014.

The law also sets up a system of so-called “navigators,” who are trained to educate the public and raise awareness of available health plans for those needing insurance. The navigators will be available through health clinics and other related agencies and can help people evaluate the plans and work with them through the enrollment process.

Nickolas Clasen, a patient care coordinator at the Center for Health and Wellness in Wichita, and also a certified navigator for the new health insurance marketplace, said a navigator’s job isn’t to push anyone in a particular direction, but instead to help them understand their options in the broad and complex system.

"It’s a jumbled mess that needs simplified for a lot of people, and that’s really what we’re here for. Any questions that can make it easier for the consumers to make an autonomous decision, to be fully informed and decide what’s best for them, on their own, Clasen said.

Clasen estimates there are about 15 navigators in Wichita, including through Via Christi, GraceMed Clinic and Hunter Health Clinic.

More information on options for Kansans can be found at insureks.org, though a full list of area navigators is not yet available.

KMUW hosted a live call-in show on Oct 9, 2013 to address questions about how the Affordable Care Act is going to affect individuals and businesses in Kansas. Check out our archive of those questions and answers from our experts to find out even more about how the Affordable Care Act is going to affect you.

Follow the on-going coverage of the Affordable Care Act with more reports from KMUW News and NPR.