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Springfield and Holyoke Help Navigate Mass. Health Connector

healthcareSPRINGFIELD/HOLYOKE, Mass. (WGGB) –When the Massachusetts Health Connector unveiled its new website Tuesday, they hit a little snag.

Like other states, it crashed for a little while trying to accommodate everyone accessing it Tuesday, the first day the nation’s new healthcare marketplace opened.

It’s kept Springfield’s Caring Health Center busy. ”In the past, 50 percent outreach, now heightened that to 80 percent, some of our staff are doing outreach from the moment they walk in, to three in the afternoon, really connecting the small businesses, the colleges, and day-to-day people who are looking to enroll in health insurance,” said Jacqueline Johnson, the center’s COO.

In fact, the Caring Health Center is one of ten statewide that received grants under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to hire navigators.  Those are people trained on every inch of the health connector, and all of the changes, available to walk folks through the signup process.

Two such navigators have just joined the staff.

In addition, they even have more than 20 interpreters in a variety of languages, so that no one is left behind.

Holyoke Health Center says they’ve seen some folks who were confused by the site, especially if they already have insurance.

Even though they don’t have ACA money, they have been, and will continue doing community outreach.

“[We’re] In the process of getting staff trained to be certified application counselors, which will then help patients navigate through part of the application process,” Ann Poole, of the Development Association at Holyoke Health Center, stated.

Jay Brines, the center’s executive director, adds, “Basically, everybody insured today will be insured tomorrow, so the confusion is going to be by name changes, some additional benefits that might be different than benefits in the past.”

They will have some of their staff trained as counselors by December 15.

To learn more about the health connector, they are holding a meeting on Tuesday October 8 at 9 a.m. at Chicopee’s Castle of Knights.

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