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Rhode Island Parent Information Network Awarded Grant to Provide Key Assistance to Rhode Island Consumers

Funds will support Rhode Island’s Consumer Assistance Program and help Rhode Islanders understand and access health coverage under the Affordable Care Act

The Rhode Island Parent Information Network (RIPIN) has been awarded funding by the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services to set up a consumer assistance program in Rhode Island. Known as RIREACH, the Rhode Island Insurance Resource, Education, and Assistance Consumer Helpline will help Rhode Islanders understand and access their health insurance coverage. Selected by the Office of the Health Insurance Commissioner (OHIC), RIPIN will receive an award in the amount of $168,000 to help consumers navigate and understand the commercial health care system.

RIPIN is partnering with Community Catalyst, a national organization based in Boston, Massachusetts that works to build consumer and community leadership that is required to transform the American health system. As a co-recipient of this grant, Community Catalyst will provide technical assistance on best practices, policy developments, and more, to RIREACH.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) gives Rhode Island this opportunity to create its own consumer assistance program, and to act as an assistance and referral center for all health care consumers that provides direct assistance for those consumers with commercial coverage and ensures that those consumers with public coverage are referred to the appropriate resource and receive the assistance they need.

RIPIN’s partnership with OHIC allows RIREACH to identify and address issues and successes presented by consumers, while ensuring Rhode Islander’s access to clear information, resources, and assistance in the peer-to-peer support model that RIPIN has used successfully since its founding in 1991.

“The world of insurance, commercial and public, can be difficult to navigate- coverage, premiums, deductibles, denials- it gets confusing. RIREACH can help consumers get what they need from their coverage, because we can walk consumers through the process,” says Emmanuel Echevarria, RIREACH Program Manager “it is fortunate that we can draw upon the same peer-to-peer support model that RIPIN has successfully used for over 21 years.”

RIREACH is designed to provide support to consumers over the phone or in person, in English and Spanish, and has interpreter services in other languages. RIREACH staff will advocate freely and vigorously on behalf of Rhode Islanders to address their health insurance needs and concerns.

“RIREACH will support Rhode Islanders through the changes and new phases in the ACA and will answer the questions consumers have about coverage,” says Echevarria “We have the ability to bring peace of mind to over 100,000 Rhode Islanders who may be insured for the first time, and to those who are unsure about how their health coverage works.”

The consumer helpline is active, and will continue to be a resource available to consumers when open enrolment through the Health Benefits Exchange begins on October 1, 2013, and through the next phase of ACA implementation on January 1, 2014.

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