Racine Kenosha CAA Helps Low-Income Navigate the Complex World of Purchasing Health Insurance in the Marketplace

The Racine Kenosha Community Action Agency (CAA) has partnered with the Covering Wisconsin organization to provide healthcare navigator services to communities in its service area.

As part of the Affordable Care Act, healthcare navigators are supported by federal dollars to provide consumers, small businesses and their employees with unbiased help understanding options available through the marketplace and in completing eligibility and enrollment forms. While this important work is conducted throughout the year, the open enrollment periods provide the biggest challenge to meeting consumer needs.

Throughout the 2014-15 open enrollment period, CAA navigators noted an increasing need to help consumers organize and understand the materials they received as part of the enrollment process. Consumers often came to appointments with envelopes, loose papers and folded printouts of income history, legal notices and communications from various state and federal agencies. At the same time, the enrollment process requires consumers to establish accounts on the marketplace website with user names, passwords and security questions. Completed applications produce 16-page eligibility determination documents with important dates, application numbers and instructions for providing verification information. Finally, plan selection provides consumers with insurance premium, deductible, out-of-pocket maximum amounts and co-pay/coinsurance amounts. Even the most prepared consumer was inundated with information and documents which, upon returning home, probably seemed overwhelming. Continue reading