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Originally published in Compass, November 27, 2013
Understanding the Affordable Care Act
Seeking insurance in the Health Insurance Marketplace

Lynn Cheney and Kevin Hunt, ACA navigators, talk at PERC

Lynn Cheney and Kevin Hunt, certified Navigators, talk to a crowd at Penobscot East Resource Center on Wednesday, November 20 in Stonington. More than 50 people attended the meeting to learn more about the Affordable Care Act.

Photo courtesy of Penobscot East Resource Center

by Jessica Brophy

Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of articles about the Affordable Care Act and the new insurance marketplace. Over the coming weeks, Penobscot Bay Press will be writing more about the ACA.

The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, was passed in 2010 and is still rolling out its provisions. The major component of the law, the health care exchanges where the uninsured are able to shop for coverage and find out what subsidies they might be eligible for, has been unveiled.

Enrollment is now possible, though the government website, healthcare.gov, has had some problems. Progress can still be made toward finding out what insurance plans and subsidies are available, whether users apply online, by phone or by mail.

This piece will explore some of the resources available to learn more about the Healthcare Insurance Marketplace. Next week, the steps to sign up for an individual policy will be discussed.

What is a “Navigator?”

Navigators are volunteer specialists who complete a training course in order to understand the ins and outs of the ACA, and to help guide individuals through the sign-up process. Navigators are not paid by the government, and do not make recommendations about which insurance people should purchase, but rather volunteer their time to help people understand the sign up process.

Washington Hancock Community Agency has organized navigators for the area. They include Lynn Cheney and Kevin Hunt. The Maine Lobstermen’s Association also has a volunteer, April Gilmore, to help fishermen navigate the ACA.

“We’re here to help guide people,” said Cheney. “It’s not our job to select or pick insurance, it’s our job to help and to keep any information we see confidential.”

There is no charge for help from a navigator, said Hunt. “Our goal its to enroll every person that is eligible on the Peninsula,” he continued.

Learn more about the ACA

Several events are scheduled for the area and beyond. The Maine Lobstermen’s Association has two events scheduled for early December. Both events will feature Gilmore, and are designed to help lobstermen and their families understand the ACA.

On Tuesday, December 10, Gilmore will be at Machias High School from 5 to 7 p.m. On Wednesday, December 11, Gilmore will be at the Belfast Free Library from 5 to 7 p.m.

On Saturday, December 7, the Stonington Public Library will be hosting one-on-one sessions with Hunt and Cheney from 1 to 5 p.m. Appointments can be made by calling the library at 367-5926.

Visit enroll207.com to find more events.

Helpful links

There are a number of websites that can be of use to those seeking information about the ACA. The first is healthcare.gov, the government’s own website. This site offers information about the process and even a short cut to examine the types of plans available in the user’s area.

The Kaiser Family Foundation has a calculator to help users figure out what subsidy they are likely to qualify for, by answering just a few questions, available at kff.org/interactive/subsidy-calculator.

Maine has its own website to help users find more information about the process at enroll207.com.

Navigator Lynn Cheney can be reached at lynncheney3@gmail.com or 374-9919. Kevin Hunt can be reached at kmhunt309@gmail.com or 326-0879. April Gilmore can be reached at april@mainelobstermen.org or 967-4555.