The health care reform policy will require that each state health insurance Marketplaces have a navigator program; this is to help people to learn about the insurance options that are available to them and how to purchase their chosen policy through the Marketplace. Their responsibilities are a bit similar to those of brokers, but at the same time, they are different entities.
To give you more information on what makes navigators different from brokers in the health insurance Marketplace, here are some of the details about their work:
Who can be a navigator?
Under the new healthcare laws, any one from a number of different entities are eligible to become a navigator; people from non-profit organizations, those from the trade industries, even licensed insurance brokers are eligible to become a navigator (though not at the same time). So if a broker chose to become a navigator, he is no longer allowed to sell policies (within the Marketplace or outside of it).
What are their roles in the Marketplace?
The brokers are primarily tasked with selling individual and group policies, just like they always did before the implementation of the state health insurance exchanges. Navigators on the other hand are tasked with providing the people with useful information regarding the exchange. They do this by answering questions from the people who are inquiring about health insurance, helping them resolve some issues, and by providing people with easy-to-understand explanations regarding their choice of insurance.
How do they get compensated?
Brokers are like salesmen, they get paid through commissions on every sale that they make; so the more they sell, the more money they make. Navigators do not make as much money; they are usually paid a substantial hourly rate for their services.
What kind of training do they need?
Brokers, even the experienced ones, still need to attend and earn their own certification so that they are allowed to sell policies in the Marketplace. To become a navigator, a person needs to attend training programs that are provided by the state.
In a nutshell, brokers in the Marketplace are there to sell you the insurance policies of your choosing, while the navigators are there to provide you with the information that you need in order to make the right choice. Now that you know who does what, you will know who to turn to when you visit the health insurance Marketplace once it opens.