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Help available for new health care programs

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I read with great interest Monday’s front page article regarding the opening of the health exchange under the Affordable Care Act, and I wanted to inform readers of one additional resource available to them.

The article, “Health-plan enrollment starts Tuesday,” pointed out that individuals and family hoping to shop for insurance on the New York State of Health exchange can visit the official website, nystateofhealth.ny.gov; call the hot line, 855-355-5777; or seek in-person assistance from grant-funded navigators at nonprofit agencies throughout the region. What the article did not mention is the availability of independent brokers and agents to assist people in their enrollments, like in-person assisters and navigators, using the help of a broker comes at no additional cost to the insured.

However, many of the area’s brokers and agents do come with years of health insurance experience under their belts, ready to use it to help people find the best plans for them. Plus, unlike navigators, licensed brokers can make specific plan recommendations. Several brokers in the area have taken additional certification classes specifically focusing on product offerings on the exchange, including a number of agents based right here in Watertown.

As with finding in-person assisters, New York State residents can use the New York State of Health website to locate nearby brokers and agents certified in the exchange. Anyone can enlist the help of a broker; it’s as easy as picking up the phone and setting up an appointment.

The Affordable Care Act is a complex law, and lots of people will see just how complex it is when they log on and shop for health plans. However, whether they choose to enlist the help of a navigator or an independent agent or broker, New Yorkers have knowledgeable, highly trained professionals they can turn to.

Stephen C. Foy

Watertown

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