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Wednesday, September 18, 2013 - 2:06pm

Health Marketplace Two Weeks Away

Online healthcare insurance exchanges will open in less than two weeks, but some local organizations are still working to prepare their “healthcare navigators.” Those navigators will be trained specialists who can guide consumers through the online insurance marketplace to buy coverage.

Amanda Ptashkin with Georgians for a Healthy Future said many organizations are still hiring navigators.

“There’s certainly not a lack of interest and now it’s just a matter of finding the best candidates,” said Ptashkin.

A navigator herself, Ptashkin said she started the federal online training modules Tuesday. Every Georgia healthcare navigator must complete that training before he or she is allowed to walk consumers through purchasing insurance.

“We’re moving as fast as we possibly can. You know, the federal training is 20 hours and then there’s an additional 15 hours that the state requires as well as some background checks, fingerprinting, an application process,” Ptashkin explained. “All that said, we’re doing everything we can in our power to make sure we’re ready to help individuals on October 1.”

If a navigator has not completed the training by the time the exchange opens, however, that person can still help disseminate healthcare information, said Ptashkin.

“October 1 is the date that everyone’s throwing out there. We’re saying how critically important it is to let people know, but open enrollment is six months,” she emphasized. “So if navigators aren’t directly able to help people on October 1st, they certainly will in the rest of the six months and there’s still a lot we can do in terms of education and outreach that doesn’t cross the line of enrollment facilitation.”

For more information on the healthcare exchange, visit