Lauren Vagelakos: Families facing rate increase have another option

Special to the Gainesville Sun

Insurance rates for children enrolled in the Florida Healthy Kids Full Pay insurance plan are going to almost double on Oct. 1. In response, the Health Insurance Marketplace, or Obamacare, is extending its special enrollment period to allow families impacted by the rate increase to enroll in health insurance on Healthcare.gov.

The Florida Healthy Kids Health Insurance Program is a program that offers low-cost health insurance for children ages 5-18 who are not eligible for Medicaid. There is premium assistance available for Florida Healthy Kids, and there is also a full-pay option for this plan. The Florida Health Kids Full Pay program allows families who are above the income requirement for premium assistance to be able to purchase affordable health insurance for their child at the full cost of the plan.

Earlier this year, 36,000 Florida families were informed that their rates for their children’s insurance would be experiencing a dramatic rate hike in premiums beginning on Oct. 1. For example, one of the Florida Healthy Kids Full Pay plans currently costs $153 per month per child and includes dental. Beginning Oct. 1, that same plan will now cost $299 per month per child with dental.

Originally, families experiencing this rate hike were not eligible to seek other insurance plans for their children on Healthcare.gov, as open enrollment for the Health Insurance Marketplace is closed and does not open again until Nov. 1 (with new coverage beginning on Jan. 1). As a result, many families were facing the difficult situation of not being able to afford their child’s health plan due to the rate hike.

The Health Insurance Marketplace is now allowing families in this situation to qualify for a special enrollment period, which will permit them to seek out alternative health coverage for their children on Healthcare.gov before the Florida Healthy Kids full-pay premium increase goes into effect.

Granting a special enrollment period to families in this situation will positively affect many children in North Central Florida. For families who would like assistance with claiming a special enrollment period and reviewing and enrolling in a new plan for their child on Healthcare.gov, there is free help available through the North Central Florida Navigator Program.

For more information and to contact a Navigator in your area, visithttp://ncfnavigators.org/ or call 352-299-0380.

— Lauren Vagelakos, associate planner at WellFlorida Council, is the manager of the Health Insurance Marketplace Navigator program, which provides free enrollment assistance through Healthcare.gov to 15 counties in North Central Florida.

Read this article online here. http://www.gainesville.com/article/20150913/OPINION03/150919959/0/search?p=2&tc=pg

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