Local, free, in-person help for Obamacare

Jan 18, 2014
Local, free, in-person help for Obamacare

As the South Hampton Roads navigator for ENROLL Virginia!, attorney Katherine Taylor guides her clients through the quagmire of health care reform.

Launched in September, the free statewide service helps individuals and business owners comply with the Affordable Care Act, which seeks to improve Americans' access to affordable health insurance with online marketplaces. "Obamacare" has ignited frustration over its complex regulations and poorly designed website, Healthcare.gov.

ENROLL Virginia! is the brainchild of the Virginia Poverty Law Center, Young Invincibles and Legal Aid. Its navigators are based at Legal Aid offices throughout Virginia. A one-year renewable grant from the Department of Health and Human Services funds their salaries.

Taylor, a former assistant commonwealth's attorney in Gloucester, recently spoke with SBN about her 4-month-old post.

Where are you based?
I work out of the Legal Aid Society of Eastern Virginia, in the downtown Norfolk office. I serve Norfolk, Portsmouth, Virginia Beach, Chesapeake and the Eastern Shore. There’s another navigator on the Peninsula.

What percentage of clients are small business owners?
I’ve seen very little response from them. I’ve reached out to local chambers of commerce, but I’ve seen a lot of hesitation [due to] the negativity around the website – it wasn’t working well to begin with – from both small businesses and individuals. So I’ve talked to very few small business owners.

From those you have talked to, what are their biggest challenges?
It’s really understanding the tax credit eligibility, and should they be going to the individual marketplace or the SHOP marketplace? That’s the Small Business Health Options Program. I have talked to some small business owners where family members are the only employees. Well, to qualify for the SHOP marketplace they would need at least one employee on the payroll who’s not a business owner or sole proprietor or spouse. I’m a resource that can guide people in the right direction as they get started, just understanding if the law applies to them and what their options are under the law.

How can they reach you?
The best way is calling me at 757-627-3362. My email address is katherinet@enroll-virginia.com.

To reach the Peninsula navigator, who covers Newport News, Hampton, Williamsburg and other cities, contact Heather R. Parsons at 757-275-0125 or heather@enroll-virginia.com.