Health Navigator, Answers Your “Open Enrollment” Questions

Healthcare Nav 01Q: What is a Navigator’s job?

A: We have two Navigators: Bianca and Delmy.  Our job is to assist individuals and families looking for health insurance.  We give objective and unbiased information about the official health exchange of NY.  We do NOT work for an insurance company – we work for St. Nicks Alliance, a non-profit community organization.  Navigators are certified by the State to help people so we are bound to respect confidentiality and your private information.  … y hablamos español!

Q: What is the Health Exchange?

A: It’s called NYstateofhealth.ny.gov. It’s the site that we will use to apply for Medicaid, Child Health Plus, and private insurance plans (aka “qualified health plans”).  Going through the website is the ONLY way you can get tax credit discounts on health insurance for individuals and small businesses.

Q: Why should people contact you?

A: Our job is to help you with the website, understanding your financial options, and making sure you are informed about your decision to pick a plan.  Your readers should contact us if they have questions about Medicare, Medicaid, and any private insurance plans– everyone is encouraged to contact us!  .

Q: What are options for immigrants and non-citizens?

A: We offer assistance to all.  We are well acquainted with the nuances of immigration requirements for mixed status families.  Even those without a status can get information on emergency Medicaid and NYC clinics that will treat you on a sliding scale.

Q: Can you give me an example of plans and their cost?

A: New Yorkers should know that Medicaid income ceilings were raised. That means that MORE adults and children qualify for Medicaid.  For one adult the adjusted gross income ceiling is about $16,100/yr, or $1342/mo.  There are still options if you are working, your employer doesn’t offer a plan, and you earn more than the previous example.  What you actually pay is based on a sliding scale of your income.  For example, there are plans that cost between $0/ month and $300/ month.  An individual earning LESS than $3,890 per month will have a discount.  A family of 3 making LESS than $6500 a month is also eligible for a discount – That’s a big range!

Q: What are challenges community members are experiencing?

A:

  • Be aware that insurance companies are trying to recruit you to enroll in their plan. St Nicks doesn’t have a conflict of interest so we offer unbiased information.

 

  • The website throws a lot of new terminology at you. We can help you translate the plans into plain English (o en español, por supuesto).

 

  • Freelancer and independent workers have specific requirements about how to present your yearly income. We are familiar with these nuances and can help you one-on-one.

Q: When is the deadline?

A: All individuals and families have until February 15, 2015 to sign up for a new plan. Don’t wait until the last day! That’s when the website has the most traffic and is most likely to not work. We are hosting drop in sessions most Tuesday evenings 6 to 8:30 pm. Otherwise call us for an appointment one-on-one.  For small businesses interested in enrolling, there is no deadline.

Q: This is too expensive, what happens if I don’t sign up?

A: If you do not have coverage, you may be subject to an IRS tax penalty. The penalty for 2015 is the greater of $325 for each adult and $162.50 for each child, up to $975 per family, or 2% of family income above the federal tax filing threshold.  If you don’t think the options are affordable, I can refer you to NYC community health centers that charge you based on a sliding income scale.

Q: How can readers get in touch with you?

A: Drop in at 790 Broadway, 2nd floor, between East Williamsburg and Bushwick, Bed-Stuy. Call me at 718 302 2057 extension 220 or shoot an email at dsabio@stnicksalliance.org

Author: The Greenline

Your monthly source for North Brooklyn community news covering Williamsburg, Greenpoint and Bushwick. Currently 13,000 copies are distributed throughout the community free of charge.

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