Thanks to grant, Pa. consortium can help more people with mental health needs get insurance

    A consortium of behavioral health groups in Pennsylvania has won a $453

    A consortium of behavioral health groups in Pennsylvania has won a $453

    A consortium of behavioral health groups in Pennsylvania has won a $453,000 grant to help people with mental health needs get insurance through the Affordable Care Act.

    That grant is part of $63 million awarded to hire “navigators” to guide people through enrollment.

    Before the Affordable Care Act, it was very difficult for people with mental health needs to easily get a plan that worked for them, said Lynn Keltz, executive director of the Pennsylvania Mental Health Consumers Association, which is part of the consortium.

    “People were really left out in the cold for their behavioral needs,” she said.

    Keltz felt the need as the program began enrolling people during its first two years.

    “One woman came in who said that she had bipolar disorder and she had not been able to get insurance, and this would be the first time that she got it,” Keltz recalled. “And there was relief — you know, she was a woman in her 50s, and, as we get older, we need more health care.”

    The consortium has helped more than 3,000 people get health insurance over the last three years, she said.

    These days, Keltz said, they’re helping a lot of recently retired people or those who’ve lost jobs.

    “We find that there are many people who come to us who are not comfortable doing the application online — they may not have computers or maybe not internet,” said Keltz.

    Navigators spend more than an hour with clients to get them coverage, whether that’sthrough a private plan, Medicaid or CHIP for their kids.

    Open enrollment for coverage starting next year begins Nov. 1.

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