By BOB OLIVER
DEARBORN — The Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services is reporting a good turnout as the first days under the Michigan Health Insurance Marketplace enrollment take place.
The Marketplace is the state’s version of the Affordable Care Act, which went into effect on Oct. 1.
ACCESS Community Health and Research Center Senior Director Adnan Hammad said many people have visited the center, 6450 Maple, since the enrollment period opened to talk to staff members about healthcare options.
“On Tuesday, the first day of enrollment, we had some people waiting outside the facility at 8:15 a.m., even though we don’t open until 9,” Hammad said. “It’s exciting because many of these individuals have never had health insurance before.”
ACCESS was chosen to be a navigator for the program by the state last month.
Hammad said that, as a navigator, ACCESS “analyzes an individual’s personal information and health care needs” to determine the best plan options for each unique case.
To get ready for the opening of enrollment, ACCESS trained and certified 30 staff members to assist individuals, families and small business owners in learning about and signing up for health insurance plans.
Hammad said it was “an honor to be selected as a navigator” and that he is happy to see individuals and families contacting the center for more information and in some cases so far, leaving with a plan in hand.
“By signing up for a plan through the Marketplace, plans are much more affordable for individuals and families, giving them peace of mind if an emergency were to arise,” Hammad said.
“There are some vendors who will be charging for the service we are offering, but we are happy to be helping individuals in the community find the healthcare plan that best fits their needs and enrolling them through the Marketplace at no cost.”
He said the Marketplace was a good first step in making sure that access to healthcare “is seen as an individual’s right, not as a privilege.”
The enrollment period for Marketplace ends on March 31, 2014, and individuals who haven’t been given exemption from signing up for health care as part of the ACA may face penalty fees each year for not having coverage.
Enrollment is being offered at ACCESS’ facilities in Dearborn, Ferndale and Sterling Heights.
ACCESS was one of four groups in southeast Michigan awarded a grant to be part of the Navigator program. ACCESS received a grant of nearly $277,000 to help people transition through the changes in healthcare due to the ACA.
The other three Navigator programs in the Detroit area are Michigan Consumers for Healthcare, Community Bridges Management and American Indian Health and Family Services of SE Michigan.
(Bob Oliver can be reached at [email protected])