Navigators Ready to Help People with Health Care Changes - 8 News NOW

Navigators Ready to Help People with Health Care Changes

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LAS VEGAS -- The biggest changes to our health care system are coming. By April, everyone must have a health care plan or pay face a hefty fine.

One of the ways people can get that coverage is through health insurance exchanges, which start their open enrollment Tuesday, Oct. 1.

Nevada launched the Silver State Health Insurance Exchange for everything regarding the Affordable Care Act, which is often referred to as Obamacare.

To go along with the exchange, the state has designated state employees as navigators, trained to help answer any insurance question big or small.

The navigators must pass multiple training courses, federal background checks, and score at least an 80 percent on the state proctor test, which is the highest standard in the country.

They are told by the state to be totally unbiased and trustworthy.

"So, that you can choose the health plan that is best for you and your family," C.J. Bawden, with Silver State Health Insurance Exchange, said.

Nevada's health insurance exchange started after the health law was passed in 2011.

"So we weren't behind the eight ball. We've been able to get out there and get in front of a lot of the things and be able to adapt to the policy changes that have come along the way," Bawden said.

To help, there are six navigator offices around the state that received federal grants ranging from $150,000 to more than $1 million, those offices include a public relations firm, the Latin Chamber of Commerce and a consumer protection group.

The problem is not one navigator location answered its phones or had available help Friday.

Bawden says come Tuesday, people should call 1-855-7NVLINK and get an answer. The navigator website should be ready to go as well.

Some enrollment assistants have a head start.

"We have navigators out in the community who have made appointments with individuals. Individuals will go to them, sit down face-to-face and get information and start enrolling," Bawden said.

If the navigators don't do their job and help they will lose their federal grant money. 8 News NOW has learned that one group lost grant money after questions were raised about the groups dealings with an insurance company.

600,000 people in Nevada are uninsured. About half of those people can qualify for government financial assistance to buy insurance.

For information on available plans, go to nevadahealthlink.com.

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