First deadline looms for health insurance enrollment, navigators offer help

CLEVELAND - There's an uptick in phone calls to CHAP, the Cuyahoga Health Access Partnership. The agency is one of four northeast Ohio agencies where navigators can help you apply for affordable health insurance on http:/healthcare.gov.

"We want to help consumers think through critically how they're using the health care system and what their budget allowances might let them choose to make sure that when they select a plan it's a plan that fits their health care needs and it fits their budget," said Sarah Hackenbracht, executive director at CHAP.

CHAP is already making appointments for its certified marketplace navigators, who will be available at several locations on the east and west sides of Cleveland as well as downtown starting next week. 

The navigators will explain topics like co-pays and deductibles and in-network providers, then help with the enrollment process.

"They would need to know if they are offered insurance through their employer," said Mary Gladys, a certified navigator.

You should also take social security numbers and proof of income for all of the family members to be covered to the appointment.

Navigators will be on site at the Shaker Heights Public Library Wednesday from 4:30 until 6:30 p.m. for anyone who needs enrollment help or information.

In addition to CHAP, navigators are available at the Carmella Rose Health Foundation, Asian Services in Action, and Parma Health Ministry at (440) 843-8087.

The enrollment period is open until March. However, those wanting to be covered by Jan. 1 have a Dec. 23 deadline to enroll.

"This is a big decision for them to make," said Hackenbracht, "and we want to make sure people understand there are local resources available to help them through that decision-making process."

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