If you’ve tried to buy health insurance at Obama Care’s website, healthcare.gov, and failed, you’re obviously not alone. There’s been plenty of news coverage about the site’s woes.
But here’s an upside: There are local folks — yes, real, live human beings in Sandusky — who will help you with the process.
And even as Ohioans are enrolling in private health insurance plans, subsidized by the federal government for certain income levels, enrollment is about to begin for another program: Ohio’s Medicaid expansion, which serves low-income Ohioans.
Family Health Services of Erie County is working with a Toledo organization that provides “navigators” to help people buy health insurance at the new marketplace set up by Obama Care.
Brad Clark, navigator project director for the Neighborhood Health Association in Toledo, said his organization has stationed a navigator in Sandusky at the Family Health Services offices.
Anyone who needs help can make an appointment with her, and she’ll walk the consumer through the various options, Clark said. She won’t push anyone toward any policy, but will try to provide fair and impartial advice.
Sandusky’s other community health center, at the Erie County Health Department, is also offering navigator help, from Fremont Community Health Services.
Jennifer Leonard, a counselor at Community Health Services, did not return repeated phone calls to her office and cell phones, but a flier distributed by the Erie County Health Department has a phone number for making an appointment to receive help.
Erie County Job and Family Services will try to provide help to people who visit the offices, but for expert advice, it’s referring people to navigators provided by Ohio’s food banks, said Belinda Sibert Biemler, program development administrator for Erie County Job and Family Services.
Meanwhile, on Monday, Ohio will begin taking applications from people who now qualify for Medicaid through expanded Medicaid coverage in Ohio. Applicants are being asked to go to benefitsohio.gov, which is supposed to go live Monday.
“They’re really encouraging everyone to do that through the website,” Sibert Biemler said.