North Carolina, a federally facilitated marketplace under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), stumbled in 2013 when opening its health-insurance exchange. Trouble was easy to foresee, as North Carolina had instituted a law barring any state agency from assisting enrollment in health-insurance plans made available through the ACA. Trained workers were needed to help citizens and legal immigrants “navigate” to these plans. Some of these “navigators” could be paid with federal funds, but many others had to work as volunteers. I was one of these volunteer navigators. Much went wrong in training, staffing, and operations, but much still was accomplished. Here I report observations, share assessments, and offer suggestions for similarly complex situations.
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Vol. 34 • No. 2