The three-month open-enrollment period for federally subsidized health care starts in November. This year, federal funding to help people enroll in subsidized health insurance has dropped.
Sorien Schmidt works with the North Carolina chapter of Enroll America to connect people with navigator organizations. She says enrollment was a success last year, but there are still one million uninsured North Carolinians and others will need help to re-enroll.
Last year, the government allocated $3 million among five organizations to help people navigate enrollment under the Affordable Care Act. Now, three organizations will share $2.8 million.
The lion's share of that will go to Legal Aid of North Carolina. Program Director Jennifer Simmons said they will manage a consortium of nine navigator groups to serve all 100 counties.
“There are so many people in North Carolina that still need education about the existence of the marketplace, about the fact that financial help is available,” Simmons said. “So we're still working to raise awareness across the state.”
The remaining funding will be shared by two other organizations. One recipient group, R& B Solutions, will help people in need of charity funding. The other helps people with substance abuse issues enroll in regular health care, so they rely less on emergency treatment.
Nyi Myint directs the Alcohol/Drug Council of North Carolina's navigator program. He says, their program will expand this year to help uninsured veterans dealing with substance abuse.
“You know, it's a real shame to see anybody suffering from the pain of addiction,” Myint said.
“It's much harder to see when you're dealing with, especially these young veterans that are coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan. They're struggling with a multitude of issues. Is health insurance going to solve all their problems? Certainly not, but what it does is it does alleviate one burden.”
Anyone interested in getting help to enroll in subsidized health coverage can call 855-733-3711 and be directed to a navigator.