(AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Navigators and assisters helped a lot of consumers — and were “key” to 8 million signups — during the first open enrollment period under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, according to a new report from the Kaiser Family Foundation. But the navigator program wasn’t without its challenges.

More than 4,400 assister programs nationwide — employing more than 28,000 full-time-equivalent staff and volunteers — helped an estimated 10.6 million people during open enrollment, the report said. On average, each assister helped more than 370 people during the six-month open enrollment period that ran from Oct. 1 through March 31.

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