Navigate this

We wrote here about the Obamacare “navigators” — a cadre of community organizer types whose task will be to steer the uninsured into the insurance market. Young, healthy people represent a key group in need of being steered, inasmuch as Obamacare is predicated on inducing such folks into the insurance market to subsidize older, not-so-healthy people.

But purchasing insurance may not be the best cost-benefit option for the young and healthy. Thus, outreach to this cohort becomes a tricky proposition. Will “navigators,” whose purpose is to maximize participation, present a fair and balanced picture to the uninsured? As we noted, the Obama administration’s position is that navigators will answers all questions honestly, but will not volunteer the fact that the cost of purchasing insurance exceeds the Obamacare penalty.

There are also questions about the basic competence of Obamacare navigators. The Department of HHS’s Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), does not intend to require navigators to have a high school degree or to undergo background checks. CMS will not even automatically exclude felons or those with prior involvement in identity theft.

Finally, there is the matter of insurance for the navigators. Henry Stern of InsureBlog writes:

[Navigators] will not be required to carry any kind of E&O [Errors and Omissions] coverage. Which is actually a good thing (from their perspective) because it’s not clear that such coverage would actually be available to them even if they wanted it.

Professional liability insurance (including E&O) requires certain things to be true. In the case of E&O, one must be licensed to sell insurance. . . .

Navigators may be neither licensed nor certified, heck, they don’t even need a high school education to qualify; they’ll simply attend 20 to 30 hours of instruction and be sent out the door, where they’ll spread their, um, “expertise” to unsuspecting victims “clients.” But what happens if/when they screw up? What financial recourse will their “clients” have? [The navigators’]homeowner’s policy (if any) won’t cover them because it’s business, and it’s unlikely that they’re independently wealthy (deep pockets).

Where’s the consumer’s protection?

Stern can’t find it, and neither can I.

Just another in the seemingly endless chain of problems that have emerged once folks took Nancy Pelosi up on her invitation to read the Obamacare legislation after it passed.


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