HHS Awards $98.9 Million to Navigators for 2023 Open Enrollment Period

US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is giving out $98.9 million to 59 returning Navigator organizations so they can help people during the 2023 Open Enrollment Period. This will help people navigate through the Marketplace, Medicaid, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). These awards will enable Navigator organizations to keep their staff and add more than 1,500 Navigators who were trained to help consumers find affordable, comprehensive health coverage in nearly every HealthCare.gov state and county during the 2022 open enrollment period.

The recent announcement marks the single largest Navigator funding award provided to date and serves as a continuation of historic levels of funding. The Biden-Harris Administration previously awarded $80 million to the program, quadrupling the number of Navigators for the 2022 Open Enrollment Period. More than 1,500 certified Navigators held more than 1,800 outreach and education events at accessible areas—such as local libraries, vaccination clinics, food drives, county fairs, and job fairs. This historic investment in outreach and enrollment efforts helped contribute to the record-breaking 14.5 million people who signed up for 2022 health care coverage through the Marketplaces, including nearly 6 million people who newly gained coverage.

“This is a historic investment to connect people to high-quality, affordable health care,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. “Last year, our investments helped result in the lowest uninsured rate in our nation’s history. This year, we’re doubling down on our efforts to ensure people get the insurance they need. Navigators critically help us reach people where they are, educating them on their health insurance options that can be lifesaving.”

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“Reaching people where they are is a key part of our strategy to connect people to health coverage. Navigators were incredibly effective during the last Open Enrollment period when a historic number of people signed up and now we are doubling down on investing in community Navigators who can help people find the coverage they need,” said CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure. “For those changing coverage or who struggle to afford health insurance, there are a variety of options to help.  The Health Insurance Marketplace® and state-based Marketplaces can offer no-cost or low-cost coverage to millions of people.”

Navigators play a vital role in helping consumers prepare applications to establish eligibility and enroll in coverage through the Marketplaces and potentially qualify for an insurance affordability program. They also provide outreach and education to raise awareness about the Marketplaces, and refer consumers to health insurance ombudsman and consumer assistance programs when necessary. Navigators operate year-round increasing awareness among the remaining uninsured about the coverage options available to them, helping consumers find affordable coverage that meets their needs, and assisting consumers beyond the enrollment process to ensure they’re equipped with the tools and resources needed to utilize and maintain their health coverage all year. Navigators must complete comprehensive federal Navigator training, criminal background checks, and state training and registration (when applicable), prior to assisting consumers.

The 2022 Navigator awardees will continue to focus on outreach to particularly underserved communities and includes $12.5 million to support additional direct outreach, education, and enrollment activities aimed at helping eligible individuals transition from Medicaid/CHIP to Marketplace coverage. Additional funds may be used for hiring additional Navigator staff to expand in-person services to more locations across their state, targeting outreach efforts in areas of high-need, and increasing enrollment assistance capacity through the use of virtual and telephonic appointments.

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Navigator organizations will focus on outreach to people who identify as racial and ethnic minorities, people in rural communities, the LGBTQ+ community, American Indians and Alaska Natives, refugee and immigrant communities, low-income families, pregnant women and new mothers, people with transportation or language barriers or lacking internet access, veterans, and small business owners.

The 2022 Navigator awards are the second installment of a three-year period of performance agreement funded in 12-month increments known as budget periods. This multi-year funding structure is designed to provide greater consistency for Navigator awardee organizations, reducing yearly start-up time and allowing more efficient use of grant funds.

Marketplace Open Enrollment for 2023 starts November 1, 2022, and ends January 15, 2023.

For more information, visit HealthCare.gov.

To view the list of 2022 CMS Navigator Awardees, please visit the navigator grantee list.

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