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She guides consumers through health care law

POSTED: December 11, 2013 7:00 a.m.
Alan Rusch/

Christina Bachman

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“Overwhelming.” That’s the word Christina Bachman uses to describe the response she has received from people seeking insurance information through the federal Affordable Care Act.
Bachman, outreach and enrollment specialist for the Saline Family Healthcare Center, talked about the ACA — or Obamacare — during a recent seminar at the Ellsworth County Medical Center.
As a trained navigator, Bachman can help individuals and representatives of small businesses with information about the ACA and assist them in enrolling in the program. She serves Ellsworth, Saline, Dickinson and McPherson counties at no charge.
Although the federal website,, crashed soon after launch and prevented applicants from enrolling, Bachman said she has retrieved enough information for individuals to compare the various plans available in Kansas.
Bachman said 355,069 Kansans are medically uninsured, including 15.2 percent — or 474 people — in Ellsworth County.
Since before the ACA marketplace opened Oct. 1, she has presented more than 35 programs, most of them in Saline County because of the “overwhelming” response there.
“I’m pretty much booked almost every day with appointments assisting people to get their enrollment process started — at least get to the website, create their account and put in some information,” she said.
So far, 371 Kansans have selected plans, none of them in Bachman’s service territory.
“I’ve printed off plans for people, but most of them have stopped at that point because they want to weigh their options,” Bachman said.
Most of her enrollment appointments are scheduled for the first two weeks of December in order to meet the Jan. 1 deadline.
She said federal officials continue to reassure navigators the health care website will be up and running error free by the end of November.
Bachman, who has a background in social services, completed 20 hours of on-line training to become a certified navigator. Her salary at the healthcare center is paid by a federal grant to the Kansas Association of the Medically Underserved.
“I very much enjoy working with people,” Bachman said. “Regardless of personal or political views, this affects everyone, so if I can educate and help people get the resources they need, I think it’s a good thing.”
She compares health care insurance to car insurance.
“People in the State of Kansas have to have coverage,” she said. “They will spend upwards of $100 or more, depending upon what kind of car they have, what their driving record is, their age — things like that — to insure a vehicle. They put that towards a material possession, but they don’t see it as necessary to put towards their overall life, health and well-being.”
Bachman described the policies she has seen as “very good” from Blue Cross/Blue Shield and Coventry, the two companies offering a total of 24 marketplace plans in Kansas.
Those choosing a plan will be required to update their information annually, at which time they can switch to a another plan if they’re not satisfied with the one they have.
Bachman said Gov. Sam Brownback’s refusal to accept $31 million in federal money to expand the state’s Medicaid program has had a severe impact.
“I have seen several people that fall into that gap,” she said. “They won’t have the penalty; however, they still don’t have access to affordable health care coverage that many of them need.”
Part of Bachman’s job is to assist eligible people to file for exemptions from penalties if they don’t have access to affordable coverage.
“That part of the marketplace won’t be up and running until after the beginning of the year,” she said. “I’ve been telling people when you file your tax return, make an appointment to come and see me and we will check to see if it is on-line.”
Three Ellsworth County Medical Center employees, Doug Stefek, Terri Wegner and Sandy Wedel, are training to become certified application counselors, a step below navigator.
Bachman said counselors can assist with enrollment. For more information or to make an appointment with Bachman, call (785) 825-7251, or email her at

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