CMS to issue $67 million in health insurance exchange navigator grants

Marketplace navigator programs will get a $67 million boost from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the agency announced. The funds come in time to ramp up outreach for the upcoming open enrollment period. 

The three-year long grants, awarded to the 34 states that use either Healthcare.gov or a hybrid exchange, aim to help consumers choose the right plans to meet their care and financial needs.

The announcement comes even as some navigator programs are worried about funding: Only 27 percent of assister programs said in a recent survey that they were certain funding would be available to support them next year.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 79 percent of assister programs this year said most or nearly all consumers sought help because they lacked the confidence to shop on their own. Additionally, nearly two-thirds of uninsured Americans wish they had more information about health insurance terms, and 42 percent want more information directly from health insurers. 

"There are a lot of choices when it comes to signing up for health insurance and we want to help make sure consumers feel confident that they've picked the right plan," Kevin Counihan, CEO of the Health Insurance Marketplaces, said in the announcement.

CMS supplied navigators with $60 million to assist with last year's open enrollment period. Over the course of the three-year grant period, CMS will monitor the navigators' performance to determine if they sould continue to get support.

For more:
- here's the announcement

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