NC Groups Plan To Help Residents Get Insurance

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Four North Carolina groups have received $3 million in federal grants in order to help them train ‘navigators’ that will be used to assist residents of the state in making decisions regarding insurance subsidies, premiums, and other elements that are found under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care At. The grants, including a $2.3 million grant for two organizations in the ‘Triangle’, are considered to be part of around $67 million that the U.S Department of Health and Human Services has awarded to 105 organizations nationwide in order to help with outreach and enrollment under the federal health law.

The largest grant in North Carolina - which was $2 million - was awarded to N.C. Community Care Networks. This is a Raleigh based statewide group of community organizations that work with Medicaid patients. The organization plans to train 40 navigators based on information provided by a spokesperson. The Alcohol and Drug Council of North Carolina received a grant of $324,798. It is planning on using its grant to help train eight workers who can provide drug and alcohol treatment referrals. It will also be used to help hire and train college students to work as navigators in the future.

Residents of the state will be able to sign up for subsidized insurance in October when the enrollment for the entire program begins. More than a million people in North Carolina are uninsured or are paying out of pocket for individual policies, many of them eligible for the subsidized insurance that will soon become available. Subsides, which average around $5000 per family, will be available to individuals with annual incomes of around $45,960 per year and families of four with household incomes up to $94,200. Coverage will become available in January along with penalties for those who do not choose to have insurance. The penalties can cost around $95, although it has been said that these penalties are likely to continue to rise as the years progress and the program continues to change. People will ultimately have to decide if they want to be uninsured and if it will be profitable to them as the rates change.

Penalties will be taken out of tax refunds. The law exempts people from mandatory coverage if they are at the bottom of the poverty scale. Navigators, which will be used to instruct people about insurance subsidies and their choices, must have at least 30 hours of training and annual certifications in order to be eligible for their role. In addition to the navigators, there will be volunteers which will assist the public in understanding the new federal insurance requirement, including insurance agents and insurance company officials.

Two other groups that received navigator grants include Randolph Hospital in Asheboro and Mountain Projects in Sylva. During July, the federal government awarded $4.1 million in a previous release of grants to 32 North Carolina community health organizations to help them train assistances for enrollment and outreach for the health care reform.