HHS Hands Out $60 Million in Navigator Grants

The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) this week announced the winners of $60 million in grants to help consumers find insurance on the government's healthcare marketplaces this year.

The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) this week announced the winners of $60 million in grants to help consumers find insurance on the government’s healthcare marketplaces this year.

The money will be distributed to 90 organizations in states using the federally run marketplace and state partnership marketplaces.

“We are committed to helping Americans get covered and stay covered with in-person assistance in their own communities,” said HHS Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell, in a press release.

The department cited a study from the Kaiser Family Foundation, which showed that the 28,000 professional and volunteer healthcare “Navigators” helped 10.6 million people sign up for insurance in 2013, including those who signed up on the marketplaces and those who applied for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

The survey also found that most applicants sought help because they didn’t understand the Affordable Care Act or what options it made available to them.

A separate poll found Latinos, in particular, benefited from the Navigators, as did those with challenging or complicated enrollments. The poll found 73% of enrollees are confident they can afford their healthcare coverage, though concerns about cost kept many others from enrolling or seeking help.

HHS said it has implemented a number of changes based on its experiences during the first year of open enrollment. This year, grantees will be required to have a physical presence in their service area in order to facilitate face-to-face assistance. Grantees will also have to meet new security and privacy standards and submit weekly progress reports in addition to quarterly and annual reporting. The agency is also beefing up its training programs, adding information on serving college-aged enrollees and on the technical aspects of the website.

A full list of grantees can be found here. The 2014 open enrollment period begins Oct. 1.