On Nov. 15, sign up begins again for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act. But this year the Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner will be keeping an eye on those Navigators guiding customers through the process.
The Insurance Commissioner just adopted the emergency rules that require all navigators to register with his office and pass a background check.
This will be Nicole Alexander's second year as a Certified Application Counselor, helping folks sign up for Obamacare.
“We've worked out the little kinks and things like that so this year it's calmer, I think,” she said. “I'm saying that right now, it hasn't started.”
One thing that for sure will be different is Alexander, this year, had to register with the Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner.
“Nationwide we know there were some issues,” said Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner, John Doak.
Doak says he put the new rules into place to protect consumers.
“You're going to be handling sensitive information, private information of Oklahoma consumers and they need to have some level of trust that this person has had a background investigation. They don't have a criminal record. The information is going to be stored correctly.”
Anyone wishing to operate as a navigator in the state of Oklahoma must prove they meet the qualifications and submit an application to the Oklahoma Insurance Department. Navigators must be approved by the federal government, undergo a background check and pay the required fees before operating in the state of Oklahoma.
According to Oklahoma statute, navigators must do the following:
· Provide a disclaimer to each person or entity assisted.
· Record the contact information for each person or group they assist.
· Submit to an inspection from the Insurance Commissioner at any time.
· Pay a $25 annual fee (individuals) or $50 annual fee (entities).
· Report to the Insurance Commissioner any administrative action taken by a governmental entity against the navigator within 30 days.
· Report to the Insurance Commissioner any criminal prosecution of the navigator within 30 days of the pretrial hearing date.
· Notify the Insurance commissioner of any action that restricts the navigator's authorization to act as navigator.
Nicole says she hopes the new rules will help ease some of the fears of those concerned getting help.
“I think if that was an issue from stopping people from coming to see us that will solve that problem,” said Alexander.
Doak hopes that number of registered navigators will grow significantly in the next month. Registration runs from Nov. 15 through Feb. 15.