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ICYMI: NC encourages health care 'navigators' at county health sites

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For Immediate Release
Friday, September 20, 2013

NC encourages health care 'navigators' at county health sites

By John Murawski

News & Observer

September 19, 2013

Raleigh, N.C. - North Carolina health officials have cleared local social service agencies to help the public shop for subsidized insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

The local health departments are bracing for an influx of people seeking help and advice on Oct. 1, the beginning of a six-month enrollment period for mandatory insurance under the new health care law. The complex law includes federal subsidies to offset household insurance costs, as well as fines for those who don't get insured.

As many as 1.5 million people in North Carolina will begin shopping for health insurance, the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services said in a letter this week to all county social service and public health directors.


The navigators, funded by federal grants, are part of the new law's outreach and enrollment program.

"We encourage all Social Services Agencies to allow navigators to work onsite if your facility can accommodate them," DHHS wrote to the agencies on Wednesday.

"This will provide valuable assistance to those who are interested in purchasing a plan through the federal exchange."


The Affordable Care Act primarily affects who are uninsured or those who buy individual policies. People who have coverage through their employers, Medicare or Medicaid are generally in compliance with the federal insurance mandate.

Ricky Diaz, spokesman for the state health department, said that allowing navigators at county offices is "the right thing to do." The county public health and social service agencies are not bound by the state health department's letter, however, and can turn away navigators or can help explain the law's requirements to the public.


The Wednesday memo from the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services also encouraged local health agencies to sign up eligible children for Medicaid.


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