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Navigators Gearing Up To Help Kansans Enroll In Health Insurance Marketplace

Two Kansas organizations are hiring staff to increase the number of consumers they can help in the search for health insurance that meets their needs. Heartland Health Monitor’s Bryan Thompson has details.

The federal health insurance marketplace opens for 2016 coverage Nov. 1.

The Kansas Association for the Medically Underserved and Ascension Health have both received federal grants to help consumers sort through the many options they’ll find. Together, their insurance navigators helped almost 20,000 Kansans find coverage for this year.

“There is a lot of detail to read through and think through," says Debbie Berndsen, who heads KAMU’s navigator program. "Not everyone understands what co-pays and deductibles are.”

Navigators don’t recommend one policy over another, but they help consumers compare the pros and cons of each policy, and estimate the subsidies they might get to bring their costs down. Berndsen says it’s vital to review marketplace policies every year.

“Drug coverage can change. The doctors in the network that are covered can change. The facilities that take the coverage, which are considered in network or out of network, can change," she says.

The deadline for enrollment is Jan. 31, and the penalty for going without health coverage will be higher next year.