The federal exchange navigators will have a lot of work ahead of them, and a few at the very top will get paid up to $48 an hour.
According to newly released projections from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the federal navigators hired to help Americans buy insurance on the coming exchanges will provide 1.7 million “help” sessions a year.
A navigator will likely spend an average of one hour per client, with about 10 minutes of each hour being devoted to recordkeeping. The exchanges are at first expected to generally serve uninsured individuals buying coverage, rather than employers.
In its latest word on how the system should work, CMS said a client-level navigator/caseworker should be paid about $20 per hour, while the time of a mid-level project leader will be about $29 per hour. Senior-level executives will earn $48 per hour.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act requires each PPACA health insurance exchange to hire navigators — who are not paid by health insurers — to help consumers understand how to use the exchange system.
Navigators will be hired in the 34 states in which the federal government is running the coming Obamacare marketplaces or where the state is engaged in a partnership with the federal government. In those states, the Department of Health and Human Services is making available $54 million.
The administration has said that navigators do not have to be licensed agents or brokers and may not be paid by insurance companies, a move that angered many in the industry. Republican opponents of PPACA, and some Democrats, have argued that agents and brokers have the best training to guide consumers.
The new CMS navigator reporting system would affect only the navigators in states with all-federal, “federally facilitated exchanges,” and the states with federal-state “state partnership exchanges.”