Tonawanda News

Local News

January 26, 2014

Program helps with insurance

'Navigators' assisting Niagarans' search for affordable health insurance

Tonawanda News — Universal healthcare, Obamacare. The whole healthcare thing can be confusing and overwhelming. Some may not even know the federal law’s official name is the Affordable Care Act.

Some probably have questions. What plans are available? What’s covered? How do I sign up?

The good news, for those seeking health insurance coverage, is they don’t have to figure it all out on their own.

The new healthcare law provides for healthcare “in-person assisters/navigators” – real, live people who can explain how to sign up, point out the differences in the health insurance plans available and guide people and small businesses in setting up coverage.

For Niagara County, Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center was awarded a grant last summer by the state Department of Health to fund a navigator agency that helps consumers apply for health insurance through NY State of Health, the state’s official health plan marketplace.

The marketplace also offers financial assistance, provided by the federal government, to lower the cost of health insurance coverage. Individuals and families may also qualify for free or low-cost coverage from Medicaid or Child Health Plus. Anyone who needs health coverage can apply.

Navigator agency Director Christin LoFaso said people who seek help from the Niagara County navigators don’t have to be Niagara County residents. Local navigators can assist any New York state resident.

”We have no boundaries. Just because we’re specific to Niagara County, that does not mean we can’t serve somebody from Erie County, Orleans County, Genesee County,” LoFaso said. “We have a great working relationship with the other counties.”

Individuals, families and small businesses can get information and enroll in a plan either online at nystateofhealth.ny.gov, by calling the toll-free number 1-855-355-5777.

Or they can set up an in-person meeting with a navigator by calling 278-4264 or emailing navigator@nfmmc.org. It’s free, but appointments are required.

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