The Ottumwa Courier

Southeast Iowa

October 7, 2013

Iowans note delays seeking health care information

(Continued)

Visiting Nurse Services of Iowa, one of the few Iowa groups tasked with training “navigators” to help people buy insurance through the exchange, received only one call as of Tuesday morning, spokeswoman Linda Clauson said.

The federal government has provided $67 million for organizations to hire and train navigators. They must undergo more than 30 hours of training and testing, much of which had not been completed in time for Tuesday’s rollout of the insurance marketplace.

“We don’t have everyone trained yet. Some of those processes of getting certified we’re still working through,” Clauson said.

In the meantime, information will be taken from individuals seeking help and VNS navigators will call them back and assist them.

Planned Parenthood of the Heartland has one navigator in training and will fill four more positions, spokeswoman Shelby Cloke said. The organization is one of many working in Iowa to help educate people about the new insurance program.

“There is a lot of confusion about the health care benefits of the Affordable Care Act,” she said. “Many have questions and concerns, and our team is able to provide them the information they need.”

AARP Iowa has held similar educational public outreach meetings and found many people in need of information.

“People are trying to get some clarity on what it means for them and their families,” said Anthony Carroll, a spokesman for the group. “They’re anxious to see price information. People are anxious to use it.”

Under Iowa’s plan, which still awaits final federal government approval, those with incomes of up to 100 percent of the poverty line — under about $24,000 annually for a family of four — would go on a new state-run health plan with benefits similar to those offered to state workers. People with incomes from 101 to 138 percent of poverty — between about $24,000 and $32,000 annually for a family of four— would get private health plans on the new health care exchanges; those premiums would be paid for with the federal dollars.

Starting in 2015, some participants could be subject to small monthly premiums, but those could be waived if they complete certain health goals or in cases of hardship.

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