Local Agencies to Navigate Nebraskans through Affordable Care Act


Despite challenges to abolish so–called Obamacare, it's the law of the land and local agencies say they're ready to navigate people through the health insurance system.

Groups like the Center for Rural Affairs believe it should benefit Nebraska farmers like Jim Knopik.

He said, "There's a lot of people out there on the farm that are without insurance.

When Knopik talks medical benefits, he doesn't mean what's covered by insurance. Instead, he means the benefit auctions, and pancake feeds to help farm families who lack insurance.

"We've had a lot of benefits for families that didn't have insurance, with major health needs," he said.

He has insurance, but the Fullerton area farmer says monthly premiums cost him dearly.

"August was $1,652," he said. "That's a lot of money then you take that times 12 and then a $7,500 deductible and then we're paying for all our prescriptions, that's really major."

As president of the board at the Center for Rural Affairs, he's joining other agencies to promote the Affordable Care Act, the president's new health care law.

"Because it is the law of the land and it's taking effect," Jose Zapata of Central Nebraska Community Services said.

CNCS has a $50,000 grant to train navigators, people who can help those who may struggle to sign up online.

Zapata said, "We're going to be there available for folks that maybe don't have that access or maybe when they get there see it's too overwhelming for them, so we can talk them through it."

The new law creates a "marketplace", where people can shop and compare online. It opens October First, but folks have a few months to make a decision.

Zapata said, "We're talking with folks that maybe have never had insurance, so we don't want them to rush into anything."

Jim says it'll benefit small business owners, including farmers, by making insurance affordable so folks don't have to hold soup suppers to pay medical bills.

"To me, that's one of the keys to keep them out on the farm too," he said.

Zapata said the law mandates coverage for maternity care, prescriptions, doctor visits, hospitalizations, and emergency room care.

Some groups call the national navigator program part of a "marketing machine" on behalf of Pres. Obama.

Local agencies paint a different picture, saying the navigators are there to help people one on one.