The Oklahoma Insurance Department has sent the state’s ACA navigators a letter asking them for data on consumer encounters and enrollment numbers, according to John Doak, the state’s insurance commissioner.
The department sent the letter to 223 navigator organizations and individuals acting as navigators. Oklahoma organizations and individuals have received about $5.2 million in ACA exchange navigator grants since 2013, Oklahoma officials say.
Senate HELP Hearing
Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., reported last week, at a hearing on individual health insurance organized by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, that some navigators seem to have done little to help consumers in health coverage.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services recently said it would address concerns about navigator productivity by tying their grants for the 2018 open enrollment period to their success at meeting their enrollment goals for the 2017 coverage year.
Oklahoma uses the federal government’s HealthCare.gov exchange enrollment system. The 2018 open enrollment period for individual major medical coverage is set to start Nov. 1 in the HealthCare.gov states and end Dec. 15.
Doak, who appeared as a witness at the Senate HELP Committee hearing along with other state insurance commissioners, testified at the hearing that he believes that, in some cases, navigators have been handling work that should be done by licensed insurance agents and brokers.
Others at the hearing, including Lori Wing-Heier, the insurance commissioner for Alaska, said that rural areas in some states have few insurance agents and brokers, and that navigators have been helpful at reaching consumers with specialized needs, such as consumers who speak languages rarely spoken by insurance agents.
Congress created the ACA public exchange system in an effort to give consumers an easy, web-based way to shop for commercial health insurance coverage, and to distribute health insurance subsidies.