Affordable Care Act navigators gear up for open enrollment

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Shortened enrollment period runs from Nov. 1 through Dec. 15

RALEIGH, September 15, 2017 –  North Carolina’s Affordable Care Act navigators are gearing up for the start of the ACA’s fifth – and shortest – enrollment period, which runs from Nov. 1 through Dec. 15.

The NC Navigator Consortium, the state’s largest and only statewide navigator group, will receive $2,444,703 in federal funding – the same amount as it received in 2016 – to provide outreach, education, and enrollment assistance during the upcoming enrollment period.

The U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services awarded the grant yesterday to Legal Aid of North Carolina, the leader of the Consortium.

This year’s 45-day enrollment period is the shortest in the history of the ACA: The last three enrollment periods lasted three months, and the first lasted six months.

“Given this shortened enrollment period and all the confusion surrounding the Affordable Care Act, it’s more important than ever for North Carolinians to have a trusted, accessible, expert source they can turn to for reliable information,” Mark Van Arnam, outreach director of the NC Navigator Consortium, said.

“It’s important for consumers to know about the shorter timeframe, and to start the enrollment process early,” he said. “Comparing plans, applying for financial help and completing enrollment can be a multi-step process. Don’t wait! If you have questions, connect with a navigator as soon as possible.”

“Otherwise, not much has changed,” said Van Arnam. “Financial assistance is still available to help consumers pay their premiums. When the cost of premiums goes up, so does the amount of financial assistance available. All plans still cover essential health benefits –  from hospital visits to long-term wellness care. Most importantly, navigators are ready to provide free, local, in-person, confidential assistance to North Carolinians shopping for affordable coverage.”

Navigators are certified experts who are trained to help consumers enroll in coverage on the Health Insurance Marketplace,, which offers affordable, comprehensive insurance plans under the Affordable Care Act.

Consumers can call the Consortium’s toll-free statewide helpline at 1-855-733-3711 to ask questions or schedule an appointment with a navigator. Consumers can schedule appointments online using the Get Covered Connector at

Consumers currently enrolled in a Marketplace plan will be automatically re-enrolled unless they choose a new plan. The NC Navigator Consortium urges consumers to seek in-person assistance before automatically re-enrolling. Prices and options change each year, and a navigator can help consumers feel confident they are in the best plan for their family and are receiving the right financial help.

Members of the consortium are Access East, Capital Care Collaborative, Care Ring, Council on Aging of Buncombe County, Cumberland HealthNet, HealthCare Access, HealthNet Gaston, Legal Aid of North Carolina, Legal Services of Southern Piedmont, MDC, Partnership for Community Care, Pisgah Legal Services and United Way of Greater Greensboro.

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Media Contact

Sean Driscoll, Director of Public Relations, Legal Aid of North Carolina, 919-856-2132,


The NC Navigator Consortium is a group of 13 health care, social service, and legal aid organizations that helps North Carolina consumers enroll in affordable health insurance plans under the Affordable Care Act. The consortium is led by Legal Aid of North Carolina, a statewide, nonprofit law firm that provides free civil legal aid to low-income North Carolinians.