Volunteers help people navigate health care law
Posted October 30, 2013
Raleigh, N.C. — As they wait for the problems with the HealthCare.gov insurance enrollment website to be resolved, people in the Triangle can get in-person help learning about their options under the Affordable Care Act.
Urban Ministries held an enrollment fair Wednesday in Raleigh to give people looking for health coverage a chance to discuss their individual situations with a "navigator," someone who has been trained to guide people through the process.
“Our goal is to make sure people know about the Affordable Care Act and how it impacts them," said Lisa Rowe, of the CapitalCare Collaborative, a group of organizations working together to improve the health of the region's medically under-served population.
"We are not assisting with making a decision, as in 'This is the insurance plan right for you,'" Rowe said. "We let them know these are options available, look at them all so you can figure out one that best meets your needs, your budget.”
About 40 people attended the enrollment fair, and Rowe said most have chronic conditions such as diabetes or asthma, which makes health coverage crucial for them.
Felecia Ellerbee has been without insurance so long that she can't remember how many years it's been. It's simply been too expensive, she said, noting her two teenage sons have coverage through their father.
"We know we need it, but a lot of times, people can’t afford it," said Ellerbee, who works part-time doing home health care as she pursues her Certified Nurse Assistant training. "I've been getting by with the grace of God and help from certain people."
Rowe used a Web-based program to figure out that Ellerbee's income qualifies her for a government subsidy for her monthly insurance premiums. Then, she helped Ellerbee fill out a paper application – they weren't able to enter the information into HealthCare.gov because the website wasn't working.
"Some days it works; some days it doesn’t. Eventually, I’m sure it will always work," Rowe said. "We’re not quite there yet, but it has not been a waste of time at all meeting with people. We’re still able to provide a lot of information."
Ellerbee said she was happy to get some help – she has a follow-up appointment scheduled – and is looking forward to having health coverage.
"She said I'm eligible for it, so hoping I get it," she said.
To schedule an appointment with a navigator, call 855-733-3711 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays and 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday.