The Checkup
9:10 am
Tue September 10, 2013

Plight Of The Navigator: Helping 750,000 Uninsured Marylanders Get Health Insurance

marfis75 / Flickr / Creative Commons
Credit marfis75 / Flickr / Creative Commons

Maryland’s health insurance exchange goes online in three weeks. How much do you know about your new options for health coverage? We ask Kathleen Westcoat from the nonprofit HealthCare Access Maryland who will help the public navigate the online marketplace.

You may or may not have heard of the Maryland Health Connection, but you’re going to. It’s the online marketplace where Marylanders will soon be able to buy health insurance. Think of it as Travelocity or Expedia for health insurance.

They’ve got a lot of work ahead of them to raise awareness about the online marketplace, which is part of the roll-out of the Affordable Care Act. There’s consistent national polling that three out of five Americans says they don’t know enough about the law to understand how it will affect them or their families.  In fact, two out of five Americans aren’t sure whether the law is even taking effect, or if it’s been repealed.  

There will be people charged with educating the public about the online health insurance marketplace. Some of them are going through training this week. They’re called “navigators”.

Kathleen Westcoat is President and Chief Executive Officer of the nonprofit ‘HealthCare Access Maryland’, which has the grant to connect uninsured people in central Maryland with health insurance. She recently told Sheilah, "A navigator will be able to sit down with a client, determine what program they qualify for, help them understand what subsidies are available to them, and furthermore, help them determine which insurance product that they might be most interested in."

Sheilah spoke more with Westcoat about how navigators will help people learn about and sign up for health insurance.If you’re in Central Maryland, HealthCare Access Maryland has a health coverage hotline you can call at (877) 223-5201. Their hours are 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Also, this Saturday at the University of Baltimore’s Merrick School of Business, there will be an event aimed at helping people get health coverage. It runs from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. It’s being organized by the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, with Maryland Congressman Elijah Cummings as honorary host. More information here.

Produced by Matt Purdy.

Our series ‘The Checkup: How Health Care Is Changing In Maryland’ is made possible by grants from CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, the Baltimore Association of Health Underwriters, and HealthCare Access Maryland.