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Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce wants to be your Obamacare broker! • Brooklyn Paper
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Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce wants to be your Obamacare broker!

Enter the Chamber: Navigator Program director Pierre Devaud explains to a Bay Ridge audience how the Chamber of Commerce can connect Brooklynites with healthcare.
Community Newspaper Group Will Bredderman

The Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce has the cure to your Obamacare ills.

Kings County’s business coalition will hook you up with a new government-approved health insurance policy — and you won’t need to worry about that glitchy federal website.

The Chamber got a grant from the state to provide “navigators” to help sign up Brooklyn’s 400,000 uninsured residents — and any other individuals or businesses looking to change their policy — for the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

The navigators will act much like insurance brokers, explaining an array of policies and helping consumers with the paperwork for the one they choose. But unlike a traditional broker, the Chamber’s navigators will offer all policies that meet the law’s standards, and will not receive a commission.

“Brokers are likely to sell you the policies they represent,” said Pierre Devaud, director of the Chamber’s Navigator Program. “We can sell you any policy that’s out there.”

Devaud vowed the Chamber would help set up Brooklyn residents and business owners with new, privately-run insurance in-person or over the phone, free of charge. The Chamber also argued that the influx of new people into the individual policy market would mean drastically lower prices for everyone — as low as $79 a month for one person.

“That’s insanely cheap,” said Devaud, noting that the Obamacare package also includes numerous tax credits to help defray cost.

But Devaud acknowledged that the law could mean higher costs for the kind of small business owners the Chamber represents.

“The small business market will offer you options that are hopefully more attractive than your current ones, but they may not be as inexpensive,” said Devaud, who added that he has met with a number of small business owners who were concerned about the law’s impact.

The conditions of the navigator grant require the Chamber to sign up at least 250 people each month, but Devaud said he isn’t worried.

“We expect that should be very easy to meet,” Devaud said.

Web– and insurance industry–savvy Brooklynites are free to bypass the Chamber — and the problem-plagued Healthcare.gov website — by shopping for and purchasing a policy through New York’s own exchange page, www.nystateofhealth.ny.gov. The state site has had none of the problems of the federal version, but only 37,000 people statewide have signed up through it so far.

Those who remain uninsured after March 31 of next year will face a $95 penalty on their 2013 tax returns.

Help signing up for Obamacare at the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce [335 Adams Street, Suite 2700, between Joralemon and Johnson streets in Downtown, (718) 875–1000] Free.

Reach reporter Will Bredderman at wbredderman@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4507. Follow him at twitter.com/WillBredderman.

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