Thousands must enroll in affordable healthcare - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Navigators help with health care enrollment

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SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) -

Enrollment for the federally mandated health insurance plans is just days away. After the Affordable Health Care Act went into law, local clinics hired people to help with the transition.

Curtis Cooper Primary Health Care is one clinic that is already taking calls from people who want to know how they can enroll. Officials at the clinic estimate nearly 80,000 people in Savannah currently do not have health insurance. They predict that the Curtis Cooper Clinic will be able to help about 6,000 people enroll by March.

Because so many lawmakers in the state of Georgia oppose the law, it's been more difficult for clinics like Curtis Cooper Primary. The state is not expanding Medicaid which leaves some people in the gap. They'll have to sign up for their own health care plans and the clinic is on its own to get the word out on how to do that

"We are going to have to work with our other partners and collaborate with the churches and other non-profits entities and other social organizations to get the word out in terms of how people can be enrolled in these different venues," said CEO Albert Grandy.

Only six people are qualified in Savannah to help thousands enroll in affordable health insurance according to clinic officials.

Sandra Toomer works at Curtis Cooper Primary Health Care and has been studying for more than a month and taken six tests to be federally certified to enroll folks who are uninsured.

"We are going to go out into the community and help whoever needs the assistance," said Toomer.

Toomer is one of six "navigators" in Chatham County after taking two state tests and four federal tests, she's awaiting the on the official certificate that will allow her to go out into the community and educate people on the new health care exchange.

The state of Georgia refused to pay to train any navigators, so she had to teach herself about every minute detail of the law and its requirements.

"Right now I am just ready to get out and help the people because there are so many people that don't know that they really can afford this insurance," said Toomer.  

A misconception she hopes to change.

"Probably the lowest premium that you would be paying is about ten dollars and it could go up from there," Toomer said.  

There are four different levels of the Marketplace insurance plans; the bronze, silver, gold and platinum. They are based on how you want to share the cost.

"For the state of Georgia, you are going to have the silver level," said Toomer. "It's going to be a middle level insurance from Blue Cross Blue Shield."

Toomer said she's already seeing lots of people with questions.

"People want to know how can they afford insurance, how can they help their mother afford insurance. There are just a lot things that are unknown out there we are ready to answer any questions," Toomer said.

If you have any questions or concerns, you can contact the Curtis Cooper Clinic at 912.527.1000 or log onto their website at http://www.chathamsafetynet.org/curtis-v-cooper-health-center/

For more information about enrolling in healthcare, you can visit www.healthcare.gov orwww.marketplacecms.gov

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