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Many Still Unaware of the Affordable Care Act and Healthcare.gov

It is now 18 days since the opening of the federal government's online health insurance exchange. The website is functioning and navigators are licensed. But the program still has a big image problem.

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[The home page for Healthcare.gov]

In St. Cloud, people who are at or below 200-percent of the federal poverty line can visit the weekly free clinic at St. Thomas Aquinas. It’s a partnership with the Osceola Council on Aging- one of the organizations assigned navigators. Those are workers trained and licensed to help people enroll in the online insurance exchanges at healthcare.gov. Osceola Council on Aging Community Services director Warren Hougland says the navigators made their first visit to the St. Cloud visit this week, and found the people they’re there to help are still largely in the dark.

“We went out and I asked, out of the 25 people in line out here looking for help, I believe one person knew what the Affordable Healthcare Act was,” he says.

Hougland says because the clinic patients are receiving free healthcare, a lot of them think they don’t need the exchanges.  Others believe the exchanges will be too expensive for them.  But Hougland says once people get the chance to talk to a navigator, they become interested in learning more. 


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