Uninsured residents will have the opportunity to seek health insurance counseling from the McLean County Health Department. The state awarded over $110,000 to the department so it can hire additional staff and coordinate a local In-Person Counseling Program. Director Walt Howe says the goal of the program is to assist residents with health insurance enrollment as Obamacare begins to take effect. He says most uninsured people will require educational assistance.
"About 70% of the individuals that will be eligible will have some difficulty either navigating the marketplace or trying to determine which insurance program would best meet their individual needs," he says. "Those are the target audience we're looking to serve."
Howe says there are 10,000-15,000 uninsured residents in McLean County. He says the Health Department's target group will most likely be low-income residents with a lower level of education. He says one of the biggest challenges will be addressing insurance policy in a culturally sensitive way.
"I anticipate that we'll probably have a number of individuals that will have language barriers or will have a different language than English, so we need to make sure that we be able to explain this in multiple languages," he says.
Howe says the service will be a great asset for people who have never had health insurance or don't understand the process.
"Personally, I have difficulty understanding insurance programs in general," he says. "So you can imagine somebody that is fully unfamiliar with insurance programs and how they work trying to be doing this for the first time."
Howe says the program will kick off October 1. He says he hopes people sign up for the first year and are ready to be insured by January 2014.
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