Today I had the privilege, with our project partners the Colorado Center on Law and Policy and the CoPIRG Foundation, to present our recommendations for the Colorado Health Benefits Exchange’s Navigator Program. The Navigator Program will provide in-depth support for small businesses and individual consumers as they utilize the Exchange to purchase health insurance. Over 8 months, we investigated navigator program models, designed navigator guiding principles, surveyed 109 community-based organizations as potential navigators, and engaged 414 Coloradans in community discussions about the process of buying health insurance through the Exchange. The result: There are high expectations for the COHBE, and navigators will be key to meeting those expectations.
Coloradans want the COHBE website to be able to guide them through a step-by-step, customizable shopping experience that responds to their needs and their answers to questions to produce a side-by-side comparison of the top few insurance plans for them. No matter how robust the website is, however, many consumers admit they will have questions or will want or need help along the way to purchase their health insurance. That’s where the Navigator Program comes in. Navigators, trained by the COHBE, will be able to answer consumer questions and guide them through the process. The COHBE is in the process of designing Colorado’s Navigator Program and will be selecting navigator entities to help consumers in the coming months.
Both consumers and potential navigator organizations say that trust is the key issue. Navigators need to be trusted entities in their community to be effective. Simple right? But who Coloradans trust to help them buy health insurance varies significantly even within the same community, so Colorado’s Navigator Program will need to be diverse and as robust as the website consumers will be using. The Navigator Program will need to be up and running well in advance of COHBE’s website opening for enrollment October 1st, 2013. That means there’s a lot of work to do in the coming months, and CCHI and our partners will continue to ensure that work gets done for Colorado consumers.
Learn more about this project and our Navigator Program recommendations to the COHBE on the project page here.