‘Indiana Navigators’ Offer Health Coverage Enrollment During Pandemic 

Bryan Ayars, CEO, Open Door Health ServicesBryan Ayars, CEO, Open Door Health Services

By: Bryan Ayars, CEO, Open Door Health Services—

Muncie, IN—We’ve heard it said many times during crises, and we’ve heard it during the COVID-19 pandemic: Look for the helpers. Our community has rallied to support our vulnerable populations over the last several weeks—and the truth is, we’re all vulnerable in one way or another during COVID. In the past month, thirty percent of us have postponed healthcare, and more than 30 million Americans have applied for unemployment benefits after losing a job.

The next couple paragraphs touch on some of the pains our friends and family are experiencing during COVID-19, particularly in the area of healthcare coverage. But please stay tuned till the end, because the broader takeaway in this message is how residents can find helpers just a phone call away.

Job losses are taking a heavy toll on communities. While the impact can’t fully be measured yet, projections are available regarding the effects on healthcare coverage. Consulting firm Health Management Associates (HMA) estimates that nationwide, the number of individuals covered by employer-sponsored healthcare plans—this includes employees and their covered family members—could decline by 12 to 35 million. HMA suggests the impact will disproportionately affect those covered by employer-sponsored insurance who earn $50,000 or less annually. On the Medicaid front, they estimate enrollment could increase nationwide from 71 million to 82-94 million.

In five weeks’ time during the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 515,000 new unemployment insurance claims were filed in Indiana. Many Hoosiers do not have jobs to go back to, and this may mean loss of employer-sponsored health coverage.

For those who find themselves in a situation of losing health insurance coverage, Open Door Health Services wants you to know there are certified Indiana Navigators in your community ready to help. At Open Door, our team of Navigators is ready to talk you through affordable options for quality healthcare coverage, whether through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) Marketplace or Medicaid. They help clients understand their options, enroll in a plan, and use that plan.

A navigator at Open Door Health Services offers free help enrolling a customer for healthcare coverage. Photo provided

A navigator at Open Door Health Services offers free help enrolling a customer for healthcare coverage. Photo provided

Open Door’s Navigators can also walk community members through enrollment in assistance programs such as SNAP or TANF.

A Navigator’s services are available at no cost, and they are open to any member of the community. You do not need to be an Open Door patient to work with a Navigator.

Before COVID, visits with a Navigator often took place in person. For safety, most Navigator services are now taking place over the phone. Call (765) 286-7000 to get connected.

We wish this pandemic weren’t here, but it is, and it’s bringing us together to look out for each others’ physical and mental health needs, our practical everyday needs, and our need for encouragement. The helpers are all around us. Please reach out when you need them.

Be well, keep your distance, and keep washing those hands.


About Open Door Health Services

Open Door Health Services is a notforprofit Federally Qualified Health Center providing comprehensive healthcare and social support services to all residents of East Central Indiana. In addition, Open Door is the lead Covering Kids and Families (CKF) coalition agency in Delaware County. More information about services can be found at opendoorhs.org or by calling (765) 286-7000.