Macon County prepares for ‘Obamacare’ Open Enrollment
by Tilly Dillehay Editor
Two representatives of the Tennessee Health Care Campaign spoke at the September meeting of the Macon County Health Council. Terri Lawson and Haowei Tong talked about the Affordable Healthcare Act, giving a brief overview of how everything will work and what it means for Macon businesses and individuals.
For more information on the bill, Macon County residents can begin by visiting www.healthcare.gov. For a 7-minute video summary, watch “The YouToons Get Ready for Obamacare” at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JZkk6ueZt-U.
Open enrollment for the new Marketplace insurance plans will be October 1, 2013 through March 31, 2014. These are private insurance plans, but they are government regulated, and most families will qualify for financial assistance in the form of tax breaks.
It was revealed at the meeting that very soon, Insurance Navigators will be available at two nearby locations: The Macon County Health Department in Lafayette, and Hope Family Health in Westmoreland. These Navigators are trained to help people go through the process of choosing the right option under the Affordable Healthcare Act.
“We will [have a Navigator here],” said Macon County Health Department Office Supervisor Jonelle McLerran. “We don’t have one at this time—but they are in the process. They will be hiring someone from the regional office, that will come to our office maybe one day a week. We’re not clarified yet as to when. They haven’t told us yet.”
Michelle McRae with HOPE Family Health confirmed that HOPE received an ACA Outreach & Enrollment grant through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). “This means we’ll be available to assist patients on-site!” said McRae. “I’ve been hired as our Insurance Navigator and am currently in the process of completing training… as a Certified Application Counselor.
“Once Open Enrollment through the new Marketplace begins on October 1, we’ll need a little bit of time to familiarize ourselves with the application process and other requirements before we go public with our Insurance Navigation Program. We haven’t yet finalized our launch date or appointment schedule, but I can assure you that we look forward to assisting our neighbors in Macon, Trousdale, and Sumner Counties very soon.”
Both the Macon County Health Department and HOPE Family Health will be announcing more details as soon as they are available. Watch the Macon County Times for more information.
“As a side note,” McRae commented, “the official Marketplace Navigator program and certification is a bit different from what is required of Outreach & Enrollment grantees. Although we will have a similar role, actual Navigators are funded through a separate grant, and have outreach and business assistance responsibilities beyond that of what will be offered here at HOPE. HOPE has chosen to use the term Patient Insurance Navigator because it complements our existing patient navigation work in terms of specialty referrals and prescription assistance.”
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