Juneau’s uninsured get help navigating healthcare

Crystal Bourland’s full time job is helping people enroll in a health insurance plan under the new federal Affordable Care Act. Her first day on the job was Monday.

Meet Juneau’s navigator:

“My name is Crystal Bourland and I am a navigator with the United Way of Anchorage. I am here to help people enroll in the new health insurance marketplace and provide community outreach on the Affordable Care Act – aka Obamacare – and how that affects Alaskans.”

Schedule an appointment with navigator Crystal Bourland by:

  • calling 523-1147
  • emailing cbourland@ak.org
Alaskans who don’t have health insurance can now get it through a new government website healthcare.gov or by calling a national hotline,1-800-318-2596.
Or they can make an appointment with Bourland.

“As of right now, I have an email, I have a phone number, and I’m ready to pretty much open my doors to people and help them out and explain all of these details of the Affordable Care Art and the new marketplace,” Bourland says.

The marketplace is a new way to shop for and buy health insurance. Bourland says it makes a process that’s usually confusing easier to understand.

“This is the first time where people can go to one place to shop around for a number of plans, compare them, but also see if they qualify for these subsidies to help them get that healthcare coverage and afford it,” she says.

As an individual, if you make between $14,000 and $50,000 annually, Bourland says you’ll likely be eligible for a subsidy.

Bourland’s office is located in the National Alliance on Mental Illness office at 9000 Glacier Highway. When you enroll for a health insurance plan, you’ll need social security numbers and proof of household income, like W2s or pay stubs.

“When people first come in we’ll just start by talking about your circumstance and what you’re looking for,” Bourland explains.

Anyone who goes to Bourland to enroll for health insurance will need to sign a consent form.

“We’ll jump onto healthcare.gov. We’ll put in the state of Alaska and we’ll start to fill out some information to get you started on the process,” she says.

Bourland says healthcare.gov is still experiencing glitches, but she’s confident it’ll be functional soon. Plus, she says, it’s okay to wait a week or even a month to sign up for healthcare.

“There’s not going to be any difference. If you enroll by December 15, your coverage is going to start on January 1, 2014 regardless of when you enrolled between October 1 and December 15,” Bourland says.

The “Get Insurance” section on healthcare.gov isn’t working yet, but the “Learn” section is, and Bourland encourages people to learn about the new health care plan first anyway.

Bourland won’t be stuck in an office; she’s also mobile.

“I hope to be able to meet people where most convenient to them, so that will sometimes maybe mean using libraries and I’m reaching to other partners in the community and organizations to see what’s best for maybe their clients or consumers that are uninsured and want more information,” Bourland says.

Bourland will have access to interpretive language services for those who need it.

Juneau will have additional help signing up for health care. Insurance broker Enroll Alaska will have agents at Bartlett Regional Hospital and Walmart later this month.

There will be an information session and Q&A on health care coverage coming up on November 4.

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