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Posted: November 2, 2013 9:00 p.m.

‘Navigator’ helps people understand health care options

Worried about what the new health care laws mean for you?

Unsure if you qualify for subsidies, or wondering if you can take advantage of the new health care exchanges?

You may not realize that, in addition to agricultural, consumer and 4-H information, the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension is also equipped to provide facts about health care laws and personal assistance to help consumers apply for the insurance marketplace.

Newton County was selected to have one of 13 UGA health navigators, and Ashley Wadley is already busy assisting local residents and those in Rockdale, Walton, Henry, Clayton and Barrow counties.

She completed 59 hours of comprehensive training through the State of Georgia, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and the University of Georgia College of Family and Consumer Sciences. She passed a State Navigator License Exam and is certified by the Georgia Insurance Commissioner.

"The health insurance marketplace is something new for consumers to learn how to navigate," said Joan Koonce, Family and Consumer Sciences family financial planning specialist.

"We are happy to provide unbiased education to Georgians across the state and in all walks of life. We are working to do everything we can to help the people in our state, and this is just one of the many ways in which we can offer our expertise."

Wadley will present informational workshops on the Affordable Care Act and how to navigate the new health insurance marketplace at Newton County libraries over the next month.

On Nov. 6 at 6 p.m., a session will be held at Porter Memorial Library, beside Oak Hill Elementary. The main library in Covington will host a session at 6 p.m. Nov. 14. The session Dec. 4 will be at the Newborn library at 5 p.m.

You can also set up a personal appointment or arrange a group presentation with Wadley by calling 770-784-2010 or emailing awadley@uga.edu.

"It’s my passion to educate people on public health issues," said Wadley. Formerly a health educator for the DeKalb County Board of Health, she started in Newton County Oct. 1.

Wadley is a certified health education specialist and holds a bachelor’s degree from Albany State University in health care administration and a master’s degree in public health from Armstrong State University.

She is working to raise public awareness and educate the general public about the Affordable Care Act and the health marketplace.

"Each person has a unique situation," said Wadley. "When they come in for an appointment, I can assist each person to find out how the Affordable Care Act affects them."

The UGA Health Navigator program is designed to meet the needs of Georgians by providing assistance in convenient, community-based locations.

Navigators are available to:

• Provide in-person assistance to those applying for health insurance coverage at the time of initial application or annual renewal;

• Provide education on the types of health insurance programs available through the marketplace;

• Offer information about advance premium tax credits and cost-sharing reductions;

• Refer consumers to other organizations for help with grievances, complaints or questions regarding health coverage or a determination related to coverage; and

• Supply information in a fair and impartial manner that is culturally and linguistically appropriate and disability-accessible, including for individuals with limited English proficiency.

"UGA Extension has the depth and breadth of reach across the state to efficiently implement the educational outreach program to help Georgians comply with the law," said Deborah Murray, associate dean for Extension and Outreach in the College of Family and Consumer Sciences.

To learn more about health coverage for individuals, families and/or businesses, contact Ashley Wadley at 770-784-2010 or at awadley@uga.edu to schedule an appointment. For general information on the UGA Health Navigator program, call 1-877-7NAVIGATE (1-877-762-8442) or visit uganavigators.org. Betsy Charron contributed to this article and is the health navigation program coordinator for the UGA College of Family and Consumer Sciences.

Terri Kimble Fullerton is Newton County 4-H Agent through UGA Cooperative Extension, can be reached at tkimble@uga.edu.

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