Open enrollment for New York's new health exchange marketplace begins Tuesday, and NY1 health reporter Erin Billups takes a look at the army of workers being trained to walk uninsured New Yorkers through the new system in the following report.
Training for the health marketplace navigators has been underway since August. They're the folks that will be out in the community, personally walking uninsured New Yorkers through their new options on the state's health exchange, New York State of Health.
"We have 50 lead agencies," says Lisa Sbrana of the New York State of Health Council. "And they have about 480 individuals out working for those organizations, enrolling people."
Those organizations have been helping New Yorkers with their health care concerns for years and are now learning the intricacies of the new system. There will be navigators in each county, and those NY1 spoke to are excited to get started.
"For people who have worked in public health for a long time, this is the kind of services that we =='ve been waiting for," says Sandra Jean-Louis, an exchange navigator.
"This is, like, the World Series because we finally get to give people affordable options," says Drew Rabidoux, an exchange navigator.
On nystateofhealth.ny.gov, customers will be able to see and compare all of the health plans and the benefits available to them in their county.
"It kind of prompts you through what you need to provide," Sbrana says. "It's not short, actually. It'll take about 45 minutes for someone who wants financial assistance to complete. It is a very kind of easy-to-understand process."
More than 1 million New Yorkers will be eligible for coverage through the exchange.
"Currently, insurance on the individual market costs about $1,300 a month, and those premiums for a comparable plan is coming down about 53 percent," Sbrana says.
There are also hundreds of customer service specialists to answer your health insurance questions by phone from a call center in Manhattan and from one in Albany.
Call center operators go through four weeks of training.
"We don't have quotas here in the call center about phone calls having to be short," says Naomi Wheeliss, a New York State of Health Call Center site director. "We will take the time to make sure that we are giving a quality conversation"
From the president down, officials are warning customers that there are sure to be glitches with the system. Sbrana, though, says New York's exchange is ready to go.
"We'll be doing some fine tuning as we go along, but we're ready to open," she says.