On Monday September 8, 2014, Health and Human Services (HHS) agreed to give $60 million in federal grants to help navigator programs on the health care exchange. Last year, HHS awarded states $67 million dollars in grants to help build out the navigator programs. Navigators are individuals who help consumers with questions regarding enrollment. They are trained individuals who are able to assist consumers, small businesses, and their employees looking into health care options. Navigator grants are only permissible in states where the federal government is setting up the exchanges. States with their own healthcare exchanges (like California) must set up their own navigator education program to assist individuals during the enrollment process.
Last year, it was reported that the navigators helped around 10.6 million U.S. residents during the initial open enrollment period of the ACA. This year they are hoping that even more navigators will get involved with the program to help consumers get covered.
Navigator grants are awarded to:
It is important to note that there are some new rules and requirements to be eligible to become a navigator including:
- Navigators must reside in the area they serve
- Navigators must submit weekly progress reports to HHS
- Navigators who are grant recipients must receive formal training and adhere to privacy standards
Despite these new navigator eligibility rules and the funding made available for the navigator programs, there is still some concern from many regarding the training and confidentiality of information when working with navigators. These navigators will be responsible for handling very private and secure personal information for millions of Americans. It is important to look into the training and background of each navigator to ensure that there will not be a breach of security with this private information.