United Way’s Healthcare Navigators: Guides to Affordable Health Coverage
In the complex world of healthcare, where choices abound and navigating the system can be a daunting task, United Way’s Healthcare Navigators are the guiding light for Alaskans seeking quality and affordable health coverage. These dedicated individuals are trained and certified to assist consumers, small businesses, and their employees in finding the best-suited health coverage options within the Affordable Care Act Health Insurance Marketplace®, as well as helping income-eligible Alaskans complete applications for Medicaid and Denali KidCare.
The role of a Navigator is comprehensive, and client centered. They start by explaining the intricacies of the Health Insurance Marketplace at Healthcare.gov, ensuring that you have a clear understanding of how it all works. Navigators then dive into your unique needs and circumstances, offering unbiased guidance in exploring the spectrum of quality and affordable coverage options, refraining from promoting any specific plans. Becky Hallstrom, the Lead Navigator of United Way Anchorage, explained this in an interview with Sol de Medianoche: “A navigator helps make enrolling easier by knowing the eligibility rules and shortcuts on getting things processed quickly.”
Hallstrom’s path to becoming a navigator was driven by her own experiences. “I applied for the job as a Navigator after learning many things the hard way when I was dealing with my daughter’s health crisis. I wanted to help people get through this process more easily than I had by using what I had learned to help others.” This desire to help continues motivating her: “The healthcare system and health insurance can be very confusing. If I can help someone learn how to advocate for themselves in an appointment and understand what their costs will be, it really makes a difference in their willingness to seek care,” she added.
Certification is a crucial aspect of being a Healthcare Navigator. Hallstrom detailed the process, saying, “Healthcare Navigators are trained and certified by the federal government to assist people with enrolling in health coverage. Every year we need to recertify by going through a review training and passing the tests. This training includes any changes that have been made for the next enrollment year, with an emphasis on security and protecting people’s personal information.”
Navigators are a go-to resource for all questions regarding insurance and will assist in completing eligibility, enrollment, and application forms as needed, including those for Medicaid and Denali KidCare. But the support doesn’t stop there. Hallstrom further explained that the support they provide goes beyond insurance: “We also help people find resources for other needs either through 211 or other community partners. Some examples include giving them the food pantry calendar if they are struggling financially, helping them connect with a Medicare counselor if they are turning 65, or helping them find a new doctor who takes their insurance.”
United Way Healthcare Navigators are strategically located in Anchorage, Fairbanks, the Mat-Su Valley, and the Kenai Peninsula, ensuring accessibility across the state. Whether you prefer in-person consultations, online meetings, or assistance by phone, United Way Healthcare Navigators are just a call or text.
United Way of Anchorage and Alaska 211 provide this invaluable service to all Alaskans completely free of charge. For those without insurance coverage, there’s almost always an affordable option available through the Health Insurance Marketplace at HealthCare.gov. Discovering your options costs nothing, and a United Way Healthcare Navigator is eager to assist you: “You do not have to do this on your own. Applying for health insurance on healthcare.gov can be confusing and complicated. Our help is free, confidential, and unbiased,” Hallstrom added.
Don’t hesitate to reach out to navigators; they are here to make your healthcare process more manageable. Call 2-1-1 or 1-800-478-2221, or simply text GETCOVEREDAK to 898-211 to get help.
PROUDLY POWERED BY SOL DE MEDIANOCHE NEWS, LLC. Sol de Medianoche is a monthly publication of the Latino community in Anchorage, Alaska