Navigating the Affordable Care Act: You can sign up or get help from an insurance agent or Navigator

WEST PALM BEACH - According to the state, there will be dozens of insurance plans to choose from in South Florida and Treasure Coast counties. Here's the plan breakout by county: Palm Beach County - 86, Okeechobee - 31, Martin - 67, Indian River - 50, and St. Lucie - 42.

So, how do you choose?

Everyone will sign up for the subsidized or discounted plans on Healthcare.gov, but you can choose "if" you want help and "who" will help you sign up.

Jeremy Simpson lives paycheck to paycheck. It's been lean times in the construction industry, so he's just happy to be working and insured.

"I specifically sought out this company because of the benefits they offer. Thankfully they do offer them. The problem is they're still pretty expensive," Simpson explained.

Simpson and his son are insured, but he can't afford to cover his wife. He's hopeful she'll be able to buy coverage through the new Health Insurance Marketplace.

"I honestly don't know much about it. Whose paying for it. Who is going to provide it. Where to go to even get signed up," Simpson asked.

Help is available. Consumers have several choices.

One option is a licensed insurance agent.

"Agents are certified, trained, and educated on the products because we've been doing this all along. Nothings changed there," said Julian Lago of Celedinas Insurance Group and the National Association of Health Underwriters.

Non-profit groups are changing with the times, and adding navigators to help you navigate the insurance marketplace. While this is a new position for a non-profit, legal aid said the new employees are qualified to help.

"I'm absolutely convinced, and I don't say this lightly, that if you can take and pass the test you have an extremely high level of knowledge of not only what's in the law, the nuances of the law, and how to present it to the consumers in an unbiased manner that gives them the most information," said Legal Aid Attorney John Foley.

Navigators are fingerprinted for a criminal background check and must register with the state. Similar guidelines exist for insurance agents too, but there is a distinction in the level of help a navigator can provide.

"We are prohibited from telling a consumer what to do. We can give them options and spell out the implications of those options but we can't actually tell them what they should do," said Foley.

Insurance agents say they can use their insurance background to help you choose the best plan.

While you can begin enrolling October 1, many experts I've spoken to say there is no need to rush.
In fact, you may be better served waiting a week or two while the kinks in the system are worked out.

Click here for a list of local non-profit groups that will have trained navigators to help answer your questions .

Click here to find a licensed insurance agent / broker, and to see the types of insurance they sell .

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