Guest column by Lauren Vagelakos
On Saturday, open enrollment will begin for the second year of the Health Insurance Marketplace, commonly known as Obamacare.
For African-American communities, getting health coverage is especially important. In the United States, more than 20 percent of African Americans do not have health insurance. African Americans experience higher rates of certain health issues, such as high blood pressure, prostate cancer and glaucoma.
With affordable health insurance through the Health Insurance Marketplace, residents are able to get coverage that provides them with the health screenings they will need to help prevent these health problems.
If you already have a plan from the Health Insurance Marketplace and would like to keep it, it is still a good idea to log in to your Health Insurance Marketplace Account on Healthcare.gov and make sure all of your personal information is accurate and up-to-date.
If you had any changes occur this past year — such as your address or income — this can affect the amount of subsidy or cost-sharing reduction you may be eligible for. Make sure that your information is accurate so that you can receive the maximum amount of cost discount available to you if you are found eligible for financial help to pay for coverage.
Whether or not you currently have health coverage, it is still a good idea to log on to Healthcare.gov and shop for coverage. The details of your Marketplace insurance plan may have changed from this past year, so make sure that the plan you currently have still includes everything that is important to you and your family.
If you would like to have a different insurance plan than you had this past year or you currently do not have health insurance, you will be able to enroll in a new plan starting on Saturday, with coverage beginning as early as Jan. 1.
If you have questions about the Marketplace, want to review your coverage options, change your health insurance plan, or apply for coverage for the first time, the Health Insurance Marketplace Navigators are here to help. The WellFlorida Council has multiple Navigators available to provide free, unbiased assistance to guide you through the enrollment process.
The Health Insurance Marketplace Navigators can be reached by phone and at different enrollment events in North Central Florida.
To contact a Navigator for your area, visit http://ncfnavigators.org/.
Lauren Vagelakos, an associate planner at WellFlorida Council, is the manager of the Health Insurance Marketplace Navigator program.