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Hospital Association Helps Consumers Navigate Insurance Options

(Hauppauge, NY... March 22, 2011) Long Islanders now have another resource to help them navigate the nuances of public insurance programs - Medicaid, Family Health Plus, and Child Health Plus - through a Community Health Advocates Program that the Nassau-Suffolk Hospital Council (NSHC) is offering through a grant from the Community Service Society. NSHC is the association that represents all Long Island hospitals and it is one of two agencies on Long Island approved by the New York State Department of Health to provide facilitated enrollment assistance to individuals and families who qualify for New York State's public insurance programs.

The Community Health Advocates grant-funded program builds upon the screening expertise of NSHC's Facilitated Enrollment Program that has been in place since 2000. Specifically, the Community Health Advocates Program is charged with helping consumers understand and take charge of their own health care and that often begins with finding the right level of insurance. This consumer-assisted program will also play an important role in 2014, when insurance exchanges mandated by federal health care reform become part of the standard options offered.

"It is difficult right now to understand what insurance one may or may not qualify for, but there will be more confusion once the exchanges get underway," said Stacy Villagran, Director of NSHC's Facilitated Enrollment Program. "The Community Health Advocates Program will help Long Islanders understand their insurance options."

The NSHC Facilitated Enrollment Program places enrollers, some bi-lingual, in community-based settings such as churches, libraries, and civic centers. Enrollers also hold regularly-scheduled sessions at each of Long Island's 24 hospitals. Since beginning in 2000, the program's enrollers have completed and processed 26,669 applications.

The Community Health Advocates Grant is a natural progression for the Hospital Council's Facilitated Enrollment program. "We already have an established network of sites and trusted relationships with many community partners," said Villagran. "This grant program will allow us to expand our reach and help thousands more Long Islanders."

There are approximately 400,000 uninsured on Long Island, according to Census Bureau data. In 2014, most of these individuals will be moved onto either public or private insurance roles.

For more information about the Community Advocates Program and NSHC Facilitated Enrollment Program and upcoming site enrollment dates, please visit www.coverage4healthcare.org or call 631-656-9783.

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