By Hywania Thompson
For those who can’t get health insurance through an employer, figuring it all out—where to start, which provider to pick, which plan is best for you and your family, and the cost of it all—can be daunting. Covering Wisconsin, a free service which employs ‘navigators’ to guide folks through the process, is here to help. They provide health insurance literacy to educate the public on the complexity of this headache-inducing necessity.
“When you start to take into account health insurance vocabulary and health insurance ideas, problems and things like that, there’s a huge need for greater understanding,” says Adam VanSpankeren, lead navigator for Covering Wisconsin’s southwest region.
Those seeking health insurance may be in between jobs, business owners, someone who lost their BadgerCare due to an income increase, or contract or freelance workers. A navigator walks you through an application for BadgerCare or an application on the Affordable Care Act marketplace, at healthcare.gov. Then they go over the options and you pick a plan. Navigators are often asked to pick one for the consumer, says VanSpankeren, but they don’t. “We go through the plans until they get all their questions answered and they can feel good about the one they’re picking,” he says.
The help doesn’t end there. Navigators continue to provide any assistance needed, even after consumers are covered.
They can answer questions about changes to insurance, technical problems or even confusing bills.
While business owner Jenny Larsen of Catered Cocktails LLC didn’t use a navigator to help her find the best option on the marketplace, she did find it helps to reach out to others. “There are many local organizations available to small-business owners that offer assistance, advice or referrals related to the issues we face as owners of small companies,” says Larsen. “Network and talk to other business owners, your friends, family and visit the healthcare.gov website to see what’s available.”
Thanks to federal grants and financial support from many partners, Covering Wisconsin is able to keep services free for the public, which VanSpankeren says gives people peace of mind. “People call us; they’re completely overwhelmed and baffled and we take everything and break it down and we solve those problems,” he says. “I go home feeling pretty darn good at the end of the day.”
Covering Wisconsin also subcontracts with organizations like Centro Hispano, Rebalanced-Life Wellness Association and The Foundation for Black Women’s Wellness, to reach diverse communities.
If you’re looking to find a health insurance plan for 2020, open enrollment for the marketplace is happening Nov. 1 through Dec. 15 of this year. Covering Wisconsin navigators are waiting to help.