With the advent of the new Health Insurance Marketplace upon us, it might be daunting for some to get started.
But local patients who are uninsured or underinsured have a couple of options to get information, get covered and get going. The first stop is healthcare.gov, home of the marketplace, which has much of the information needed to enroll.
It helps to be prepared, as an email address is needed to set up an account before viewing any plans or prices.
And because of high traffic, it might help to avoid signing on during peak hours or even wait a week or so to enroll, said Jenny Englerth, CEO of Family First Health.
"I found it pretty user-friendly," she said of the site.
But some people just need a little more assistance, Englerth said.
Enrollment help: That's where Family First comes in.
The federally qualified health center has five locations in York and Adams counties, and its employees are trained as Patient Navigators and Certified Application Counselors.
That means they are professionally trained to help people as they enroll in the marketplace, Englerth said. All federal health centers received some additional funding to have that focus on enrollment and outreach, she said. Each of Family First's locations split a $120,000 grant to help train its employees, she said.
"They're really going to help someone through the online process," Englerth said.
The health center has started to field a lot of questions about the marketplace in the past few weeks, she said. It even got a call Tuesday morning from someone who purchased insurance through the exchange, she said.
"Somebody in York County is now insured that wasn't," Englerth said.
It's also important to note that the marketplace is not connected to the partial government shutdown, she said.
"People shouldn't be deterred by that - it's up, it's running," Englerth said.
More help: Memorial Hospital is another resource for Yorkers who want to learn more about the new marketplace.
The hospital also has several Certified Application Counselors who are trained to help consumers navigate the marketplace and determine eligibility for Medicaid, said spokesman Jason McSherry. In addition to that, there are fliers and pamphlets available in the hospital and family practices throughout the community, he said.
And with most Americans being required to have health insurance by the first of next year, there are certainly people who need help navigating their options, McSherry said.
"Memorial Hospital is not only committed to supporting our community's health needs, but also to educating and informing the people we serve," he said.
Need help enrolling in the Health Insurance Marketplace?
Family First Health: Call 717-845-8617 or stop in for help with the online process. Starting Monday, information kiosks will be set up in the York City location's lobby, 116 S. George St.
Memorial Hospital: Anyone who would like to make an appointment with a Certified Application Counselor can call 717-849-5457.
-Reach Mollie Durkin at firstname.lastname@example.org.