One thing always puzzled me about the state insurance exchanges that are suppoed to sell insurance plans under Obamacare; what happens if you don't understand something or need other assistance? Will they have people that you can call and help just like, you know, a regular insurance company or something?
Fear not, America. The Obama administration is set to hire tens of thousands of "navigators" who will help you get all signed up for Obamacare:
Tens of thousands of health care professionals, union workers and community activists hired as "navigators" to help Americans choose Obamacare options starting Oct. 1 could earn $20 an hour or more, according to new regulations issued Wednesday.
The 63-page rule covering navigators, drawn up by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, also said the government will provide free translators for those not fluent in English -- no matter what their native language is.
"The proposed requirements would also include that such entities and individuals provide consumers with information and assistance in the consumer's preferred language, at no cost to the consumer, which would include oral interpretation of non-English languages and the translation of written documents in non-English languages when necessary to ensure meaningful access," said the regulations.
The rules also addressed conflict of interest and other potential issues that navigators could face as the public's first stop on the Obamacare trail.
It is still not clear how many navigators will be required. California, however, provides a hint. It wants 21,000.
That could be an expensive proposition. The proposed rules, now open for public comment, suggest an estimated pay of $20-$48 an hour.
"There is a section of the proposed regulation where our financial analysts estimate how financially significant the regulation will be. In that section, for the purposes of estimating that impact, they assumed navigators would be paid an average of $20 an hour. That is an estimate, not a recommendation or a requirement," said an administration official. "States and organizations are not required by the federal government to set any payment levels for these employees," he added.
The rules allow navigators to come from the ranks of unions, health providers and community action groups such as ACORN and Planned Parenthood. They are required to provide unbiased advice.
Where is the money to come from to pay for tens of thousands of workers making $20-$48 an hour? And anyone who believes the navigators will offer "ubiased" advice needs their head examined.
Finding out what's in Obamacare after we passed it sure can be an adventure.