Help available for Affordable Care Act patients
Inside a few small rooms at Wishard Hospital, it is quiet and calm, like an island in a sea of controversy and confusion over heath care. Staffers, referred to as "navigators," are waiting with laptops and folders full of information for the phones to ring and then guide callers through the unfamiliar depths of the Federal Health Insurance Marketplace.
Melissa Masterson of Wishard-Eskenazi Health explained, "I believe people in general will be very intimidated by the system and we will be there to help."
Once the word gets out, that is.
The hospital is one of four government-selected health insurance navigators in Indiana. Soon about 100 trained staffers will help callers understand the options and regulations of the Affordable Health Care Act.
The so-called navigators can steer people through a pretty complex process, but they can only take callers so far. Navigators can ask questions and fill in answers on computerized forms, but can't recommend one insurance plan over another.
"We cannot steer the consumer to select A versus B versus C" said Masterson. "We can push the button for them, but they have to select which button to push."
Unfortunately, the navigators don't have VIP pass to HealthCare.gov. They, like a lot of Americans, are stuck in internet traffic and can't jump to the head of the line. They are locked out.
"Yes, everyone here is in the same boat," Masteron said.
It is a very big boat. In Marion County alone, an estimated 80,000 people are eligible to purchase insurance, once they navigate the internet.