As America inched ever closer to the October 1 roll out of the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) insurance exchanges, news stories explaining a brand-new type of allied healthcare position began appearing all across the country. What is that new position? The health insurance navigator.
The health insurance navigator is an individual who ostensibly understands both the computerized system and all of the options available to consumers, on the exchange of that particular state. His job is to assist consumers in figuring out what type of health insurance is best for them then assist them in the enrollment process.
On the surface, it sounds straightforward. Yet the complexity of the exchange system makes the job of the health insurance navigator much more difficult than many people understand. Moreover, given the difficulties many Americans have already encountered while trying to enroll, there may be more to the navigator position than anyone ever expected.
How the new healthcare insurance navigators are trained is a matter of the standards in each state. For example, the Associated Press reported workers in New Hampshire were receiving training through a number of different venues. Most workers were receiving training from the companies or organization that hired them, even as those organizations waited for federal training materials to arrive.
Because those materials did not arrive until mid-September, much of the early training was a piecemeal effort utilizing any resources trainers could get their hands on. This does not bode well for the idea of consistency, but the assumption is that the system will improve as we go forward.
Perhaps one of the most intriguing questions about the rise of the health insurance navigator is whether these positions will offer long-term viability or not. In other words, the current hiring bonanza may be something akin to seasonal retail hiring in advance of the Christmas holidays.
There will be, undoubtedly, some health insurance navigators who will enjoy steady employment for the rest of their careers. However, once the initial rush dies down, many navigators may not have enough work to keep them busy. What will they do when the time comes to downsize?
Traditional Areas Still Hiring
For the average staffing agency, the bread-and-butter will remain in more traditional positions like nurses and doctors. They will also continue to hire for the full range of allied healthcare positions that are now staples of American healthcare delivery, whether or not health insurance navigators are still needed in the future.
The most important thing to remember when building a long-term strategy is to keep an eye on the centralization of healthcare delivery. If predictions are correct, the demise of individual family practices and small-market delivery systems is on its way out. Hiring for the future will be more focused on larger, corporate medical groups able to offer “assembly line” medicine at the best possible cost.
The roll out of the ACA is, without a doubt, changing the American healthcare landscape. It is up to staffing agencies to keep up or be left behind. Even if that means temporarily dabbling in the area of health insurance navigators.