KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- While federal officials have pushed people to use navigators to help them sign up for health insurance on healthcare.gov, there is another group out there qualified to help you sign up. In fact, they would argue they are more qualified.
You don't want to get caught without health insurance after March 31, or a trip to the hospital might lead you to bankruptcy, much like it does now to families without health insurance. But signing up can be intimidating.
While there are federal navigators out there who can help you sign up for health insurance, you could also go through a licensed health insurance broker.
And there are several advantages.
For instance, a broker can look at all the plans and recommend the best one for you based on your health history while a navigator cannot. They have years of experience while navigators were hired within the last 10 months and only trained to take you through healthcare.gov. And they can shop for plans on and off the exchange.
The broker we spoke with says if you qualify for a subsidy, brokers can sign you up at healthcare.gov to make sure you get the best plan for you. But there are only two insurance companies on healthcare.gov -- Blue Cross/Blue Shield and Coventry.
But there are at least five other health insurance companies out there selling policies.
If you don't qualify for a subsidy, a broker can get quotes for you from all the health insurance companies -- to help you find the best deal.
Brokers also say they will be there after the deadline to answer your questions.
"I imagine most navigators after March 31 will be doing something else besides health insurance and navigating healthcare.gov," Tom Morill, Independent Health Insurance Broker said. "Health insurance agents will still be working with health insurance and his clients and helping maintain those policies.
Tom has a warning for all of you out there. Make sure you pay your monthly health insurance premiums. He says if you don't, your insurance will be dropped and you'll have to pay the federal tax penalty and you won't be able to sign back up for health insurance until the next open enrollment, which is on November 15.
So keep that in mind when you start getting your health insurance bills.
If you would like to find a health insurance broker near you, you can go to www.gkcahu.org and put in your zip code.