Jackson, Mich. | With the opening of the Health Insurance Marketplace on October 1st came some technical difficulties, but Michigan’s Center for Family Health was ready to help with a unique strategy for answering questions and assisting individuals in enrolling– the opening of a special Health Insurance Marketplace assistance center. The assistance center is a resource for anyone who needs help understanding the Affordable Care Act and their options in the Marketplace.
With the help of a federal grant, Center for Family Health opened this special assistance center located at 407 N. Jackson St., just blocks away from their main Health Center campus, to enroll uninsured individuals during the open enrollment period that began October 1. From 8 am to 5 pm Monday through Friday, two full-time certified staff members are available to answer questions and assist Jackson County residents in enrolling for coverage, with additional help available depending on demand.
“Residents who have already come in for help are excited to see what they are eligible for and really like the separate location for help,” said Dani Carpenter, lead navigator and financial service advocate at Center for Family Health. “So far, everything has happened as planned and residents seem to really appreciate the variety of options and different modes of applying for coverage.”
At the Center for Family Health Marketplace, consumers and patients have access to computers where they can explore the various options at www.healthcare.gov while navigators stand by to answer questions. This gives individuals the ability to browse the Marketplace without actually having to purchase insurance right on the spot, so they can learn the facts and make informed decisions based on their needs and resources.
“It is so valuable for a Federally Qualified Health Center to offer this service,” said Michelle Mayo, patient account manager at the Center for Family Health.
Besides educating individuals about the different private insurance options that are available, the Center’s Marketplace is set up to also provide help with eligibility and enrollment in Medicaid and MIChild (Michigan’s Children’s Health Insurance Program). When Michigan’s Medicaid program expands in the spring of 2014 to individuals whose income is below 133% of poverty through the Healthy Michigan Plan, an additional 7,500 uninsured individuals in Jackson County will be eligible for Medicaid coverage.
Anyone interested in signing up for coverage should bring their 2012 tax forms, current pay stubs, and any other income information with them to the Center for Family Health’s Marketplace assistance center. To ensure the highest quality assistance, a checklist for needed materials can be found at Marketplace.CMS.gov, which also contains many other resources to help in your considerations of what type of health plan is most ideal for your situation.
To increase efforts to educate and enroll as many of the uninsured as possible, Center for Family Health is participating in outreach events over the coming months which target both organizations and the community. Events include the following (target audience in parentheses):
• October 15, 9 am – Washtenaw Health Initiative Medicaid Workgroup – Washtenaw County (Organizations)
• October 21, 6 pm – Jackson’s County Great Start (Organization and Community)
• October 28, 12 pm – Jackson County Human Services Coordinating Alliance (Organizations)
• October 30, 9 pm – Jackson College (Community)
• Starting November 1 – Dani Carpenter, lead regional navigator, will be at the Chelsea District Library every Monday and Friday from 1:30-4:30 pm to assist enrolling individuals from Washtenaw County by scheduled appointment (Community)
• November 19, 8:30 am – Hillsdale County Health Department (Organizations)
For more information about Center for Family Health’s Marketplace, call 517.788.8809 or stop by the Marketplace assistance center’s convenient location at 407 N. Jackson St. in the heart of downtown Jackson.