Navigators are set to be trained to help people enroll in the new marketplace of insurance plans. As noted in this Wall Street Journal article several states are now enacting rules that are intended to protect consumers’ confidential information (e.g., social security numbers and tax info) by setting high standards (fingerprinting, licensure) of the assisters, much as insurance brokers are already. On the surface this is certainly not a bad thing but it does create another level of barriers to assuring a smooth enrollment process this fall.
Another way of looking at this though suggests that perhaps not all is as it seems. Extension and others who help many limited income families already have access to that confidential information (VITA sites) without any such standards. So apparently those of limited income didn’t need the same protections of those with higher incomes. I find this curious.
Some think the effort may be a disingenuous ploy implemented to once again make it more difficult for consumers to enroll, and to make this first year’s enrollment process go less than smoothly. I find it important to remember that this marketplace model of health insurance that became Obamacare was originally an idea of conservative groups who did not want to see Medicare extended to all populations, or were not supportive of any of a number of other health insurance reform proposals. A similar system has been successfully implemented in Massachusetts (when Romney was Governor there)KFF Massachusetts Health Care Refore July 2012. And though conservative groups have clearly not be supportive of Obamacare, it is the closest to allowing the free market to continue to provide insurance, the kind of plan one would expect them to support.