When states and the federal government launch the new insurance marketplaces, or “exchanges”, on October 1, one of their greatest challenges will be reaching the very people the marketplaces are meant to help. ... Enter the navigators. The federal law directs the exchanges in each state to fund these entities, who will act like travel guides for the online marketplaces. ... The idea is that health care is complicated, so having someone walk you through the process helps. But when insurance agents and brokers first learned of the plan, some saw the navigators as government-funded competition .
HHS is preparing to award $54 million in grants to navigators—organizations that will provide impartial information to the public about signing up for coverage on the state health insurance exchanges. Navigators are not allowed to recommend particular health plans. These grants will go to navigator organizations in states where the federal government will operate the exchanges
But what about the people required to guide the uninsured to those heralded online marketplaces? These people are called “Navigators.” It will take thousands of them to reach, guide, and teach the uninsured.
Who are they? Who will train them? How much training should they receive? Who will pay them? How much will they be paid? How and should they be regulated?
You bet it is. America health agents and brokers look upon navigators as government-funded competitors, whose rules and functions overlap what agents and brokers do.
For that reason, thousands of agents have been lobbying and meeting at local, state, and federal levels to question, define, and blunt the navigator movement. The National Association of Health Underwriters, the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America, The National Association of Professional Insurance Agents, and the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors have all been active in challenging and containing the concept of health exchange navigators.