Need Assistance Enrolling in Coverage? Meet the Certified Application Counselors

On October 1, millions of Texans will be able to shop for affordable health care options through the new Health Insurance Marketplace. Though many people will access the Marketplace online, some of us may feel more comfortable meeting with someone in-person who can answer any questions we may have and help us better understand the new enrollment process. We spoke to some folks in Austin who will work with the nonprofit Foundation Communities, which has opened up two enrollment centers that are free to the community. They will be Certified Application Counselors during the six-month enrollment period that starts this week. For more information about people and places available to help in your area, find resources at LocalHelp.Healthcare.gov. (Note: This site is still being updated, so if you don’t find information for your community today, be sure to check back regularly.)

Volunteer_JoshName: Josh Rabinowitz

Occupation: Entrepreneur

What would you tell people who are considering visiting an enrollment center?

A couple of years ago I broke my collarbone playing touch football. The surgery I needed cost $30,000. Since I had insurance, it only cost me about $5,000. That’s the difference. I didn’t really believe in insurance until then, or realize why I might need it down the line. But you just never know.

Why are you volunteering to help people enroll in coverage?

I think the best way to figure out if the Marketplace is a viable option is to do the best job we can with it, and go 100%. You can’t make that decision by putting people in a position to fail.

I also wanted to learn more about the Affordable Care Act for personal and professional reasons. My partner has a pre-existing condition, and his risk pool insurance plan will be ending January 1st. He’ll be looking into health care options on the Marketplace, and I’m going to look for myself, too. I also own a small business in the medical industry, and I want to make sure I understand the law’s provisions that will impact aspects of my business, like reimbursability for devices and treatments.

How would you complete this sentence? Health coverage means . . .
Preparing for the unexpected.

 

Volunteer_Mark

Name: Mark

Occupation: Project Manager in the tech industry

Why did you want to volunteer to help people enroll in the Marketplace?

I think the Affordable Care Act is really beneficial to the community. It has many pluses and can cover a lot of people who currently have no health insurance. I believe in it and thought volunteering would be a good way to give back to the community.

Will you be checking out the Marketplace?

I get some help with health coverage through my job, but I do have to pay, too. I will at least investigate the Marketplace to see what my options are.

Are you excited for October 1?

I am excited. It’ll be nice to finally be able to see the Affordable Care Act in action and see people getting enrolled.

What would you tell people who are considering visiting an enrollment center?

You can come in and see what your options are without having to make any commitments. Everything is confidential, so you don’t have to worry about anybody getting a hold of the private information that you will provide.

Why do you think it’s important that so many people have health coverage?

There is such a high percentage of people, especially in Texas, who don’t have health coverage, and it costs society a lot. If as many people as possible have health insurance, we can all pay for our fair share and have access to preventive care and other health services.

How would you complete this sentence? Health coverage means . . .

Healthier communities.

Director_Elizabeth

Name: Elizabeth Colvin

Occupation: Director, Insure Central Texas

How will the Insure Central Texas locations help people? Why should people visit?

Our Insure Central Texas centers are a place for people to drop in, ask questions about the new healthcare law, and get in-person assistance with understanding the new health insurance plans and what they will cost. Our trained volunteers are ready to answer questions, walk people through the online Marketplace, and help people fill out the application to obtain health insurance and financial aid that will reduce the costs. We are open to serve the community and are here for just about anyone – the person who is shopping for insurance for the first time, a musician or free-lancer working without health benefits, or a single mother who doesn’t have insurance through her employer.

How would you describe the volunteers to someone unsure of visiting an enrollment center?

Our trained volunteers are volunteering their time to help individuals and families in Central Texas figure out how the new healthcare insurance laws work and what insurance will cost. Our volunteers are official Certified Application Counselors and participated in an on-line training and additional training by Foundation Communities. Most importantly, our volunteers have no agenda other than helping people in Central Texas.  They aren’t trying to sell anything and have no association with insurance companies. They want to help each individual and family learn about how the new laws impact them and what insurance options and financial aid are available for their personal situation.

Why are you excited about the Marketplace opening October 1?

For the first time in Texas, insurance companies cannot deny you coverage for a pre-existing condition or chronic health issue.  The Marketplace will give families who previously couldn’t afford insurance the opportunity to obtain a good health insurance plan and possibly receive financial aid to reduce the cost. We all have friends and family members who are working without insurance and live with the worry of being uninsured.  Having quality health insurance gives you peace of mind and the ability to manage your health.

How would you complete this sentence? Health coverage means . . .
Financial stability.

Without health insurance, an unexpected illness, a long-term condition, or an accident can result in years of medical debt for a family. No family should lose all their savings or go bankrupt just because a loved one gets sick.

Note: Starting October 1, Insure Central Texas centers will be open 7 days a week at two convenient locations. No appointment is needed.  Visit InsureCentralTexas.org or call 2-1-1 (option 1) and ask for information on Insure Central Texas.

Written by: Liz Moskowitz, Texans Care for Children.

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