The state Health Department has selected Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center to administer a countywide effort to help consumers select and purchase health insurance.
Designed to provide assistance in community-based locations, the in-person assistor and navigator (IPA/navigator) program will provide enrollment assistance to individuals, families, small businesses and their employees who apply for health insurance through the New York Health Benefit Exchange.
Memorial was the only organization chosen to administer the program in Niagara County following a competitive application process.
"Assistor/navigators will provide informative, accurate, culturally competent enrollment services at 10 disability accessible sites across Niagara County," said Memorial Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Sheila K. Kee. "These free services will be available at times that are convenient for consumers, including evenings and weekends."
Working with a countywide network of partner organizations, Niagara County IPA/navigators will hold 30 enrollment sessions each week. A program director will conduct extensive outreach to targeted populations and maintain referral linkages to Memorial's countywide network of more than 75 community organizations.
"Along with facilitating eligibility determinations, these navigators will explain coverage options, provide coverage comparisons, help with plan selection and support consumers in filing online health insurance applications," Kee said.
Kee noted that nearly 15,000 county residents - including 2,350 children - lack health insurance. Memorial will seek to enroll more than 4,000 individuals during the first year of the program.
Funding for the program will be provided by the Department of Health for up to 62 months with a potential total contract award of $1.16 million.
The New York Health Benefit Exchange is designed to help individuals, families and small businesses shop for and enroll in health insurance coverage and determine what type of financial assistance may be available.
Public health care programs will be available through the exchange for those who are eligible. Qualified health plans can be purchased beginning Oct. 1 and will be effective Jan. 1, 2014. For more information, visit HealthBenefitExchange.ny.gov.