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HIX navigators

April 23, 2013  by Tony Novak, CPA, MBA, MT

Navigators are a new class of health insurance enrollers created by the Affordable Care Act

Agent, broker, navigator or in-person enroller: where do I fit in?

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 created a new class of health insurance workers called navigators who are envisioned to assist with the enrollment of up to 40 million people in the various state insurance exchanges. Since passage of the Act much has changed. The state exchanges now envision agents and brokers, rather than navigators, as the primary enrollment force. In-person enrollers will likely play an important part, especially in non-English speaking communities and those who will qualify for full or partially subsidized insurance.

Navigators will be hired in all 50 states and DC. At the time this article was written, there is speculation over the number of hires and the duration of employment of navigators. Most of the positions will presumably be temporary since the bulk of enrollment demand comes around the beginning of mandatory health insurance in January 2014. It appears that about 100 firms will be hired across the nation - selected by the states or federal government as part of a grand awards program to do the recruiting and training of the navigators. The department of Health and Human Services published training and salary guidelines for navigators but these are not binding on the states that run their own insurance exchanges. We speculate that salaries for state-run navigators might be a bit lower than for the states that use a federally run exchange.

At this time there is no third party firm acting as a distributor of navigator-related job information. OnlineNavigator founder Tony Novak offered to build an e-mail list and distribute information as it becomes available. Over the next few weeks a more sophisticated system is likely to be introduced. It is possible that the navigator hiring process will be delayed in many states and it is even possible that the start date for the entire project will b delayed past January 2014.

Since the navigator positions may require its employees to give up their insurance producer affiliations, it seems that established agents and brokers would not be interested. It seems unlikely that an experienced health insurance agent could match his earnings by working for a government-run insurance exchange. These may find better opportunities working for commercial insurance exchanges that will offer more opportunity for cross-sales and relationship marketing.

This article is likely to be updated as more information becomes available. In the meanwhile, check out the navigator discussion group on LinkedIn for news posts and related discussion.