Wenda Black is a SHICK volunteer — helping people navigate their choices when it comes to Medicare. She also works for the Harvey County Dept. on Aging — and lately her phone has been ringing with new questions about health care.
"People may not be Medicare eligible but come here for information," Black said. "There are people asking questions."
Questions about the Affordable Care Act, which she says she should not really answer.
"SHICK is to Medicare what navigators are to exchanges," Black said.
Navigators are available to help with the state and federal insurance exchanges — or will be when the exchanges open in October. Yet the questions still come to Black. Today she has a new tool — a place to send people online for help.
A new website rolled out Tuesday by the Kansas Insurance Department will help Kansans learn more about changes in the health insurance market in the coming months.
The site, insureKS.org, offers educational information for Kansans who may be interested in accessing health insurance coverage through either the online Health Insurance Marketplace or in the regular insurance market outside of the marketplace. The Health Insurance Marketplace is an Internet portal that will allow people to sign up for health insurance as part of the new federal health reform law and to determine whether they may be eligible for financial assistance to pay for health insurance.
"I think that Kansans who go online to the new site will find many answers to the questions that have been raised about the new health insurance provisions," said Sandy Praeger, commissioner of the Kansas Insurance Dept. "We have tried to provide information and education pieces that will give them a chance to get the facts for themselves."
The site links to short videos of Praeger explaining portions of the law that may affect Kansans.
Also included on the insureKS.org website are the following:
• An interactive program nicknamed "Alex" that helps a viewer learn about the 2014 health insurance changes and how they might affect their insurance situation.
• A premium estimator that will calculate premium costs and possible tax credits for individuals and families, based on the information they provide.
• Brochures and FAQs that explain provisions of the health insurance law that go into effect Jan. 1, 2014.
• A link to the federal Health Insurance Marketplace.
• A list of external resources.
• Information about Kansas Navigator programs, insurance agents, and other assisters that are offering personal help with understanding the law’s provisions.
Social media users can also find links to the insureKS.org Facebook, Twitter and YouTube channel at the website. A link to the new department "Health Insurance in Kansas" booklet will also be there.