Get help with enrolling in health care plan

The Guardian
By Aida Mallard

Do you have health insurance? If not, why not take advantage of the Community Health Enrollment event with Affordable Health Care Act Navigators to help you enroll in a health plan to fit your needs and your pocketbook.

And eligible individuals and families could receive subsidies that could result in huge discounts.

The enrollment event will be held from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Dec. 13 at the King Center at 1028 NE 14th St. It is free and open to the community. The event is being sponsored by the Gainesville chapter of the Links Inc.; Enroll America, a nonprofit organization to get people insured; the Epilepsy Foundation; Infection Prevention and Treatment Center of Gainesville; the WellFlorida Council; and UF Health HealthStreet.

Also featured will be health screenings, nutrition advice, Ask a Pharmacist (so bring your meds), the Alachua County Bookmobile and other services.

Dr. Marie A. Kima, an infectious disease specialist and a member of The Links, strongly encourages those without insurance to attend the event and take advantage of the services offered, and most importantly, the Navigators who can help enroll residents in a plan that fits their needs.

The deadline for open enrollment for the Affordable Health Care Act, also known Obamacare, is Dec. 15. It will become effective Jan. 1. However, Feb. 15 is the last day for open enrollment in order to get insurance in 2015. There is special enrollment for those who have a change in their situation, such as employment, relocating, household changes and other circumstances.

David O’Malley, North Florida organizer of Enroll America, said there is misinformation that the Affordable Health Care Act premiums are high, even with subsidies. But, in fact, 983,000 Floridians paid average premiums of $68 for health plans.

To learn about enrollment options and/or to enroll, the following documents will be needed:

W-2 form and/or income information

Social Security number for every person in the household

Employer information

Certificate of citizenship, if applicable.

Although eligible people who are not insured are most likely the working poor or young adults, Kima said, they are the most likely who are eligible for substantial discounts through subsidies.

“African Americans, Hispanics and young people are not taking advantage of the Health Care Act,” Kima said. “We’re trying to reach out to these groups.”

O’Malley said about 8,300 people in Alachua County are enrolled in plans, but about 1 in 5 African-American residents here are uninsured, with young adults representing a very large number of the uninsured. In the U.S., 28 percent of 18- to 34-year-olds are uninsured compared to Florida, with 38 percent.

O’Malley said what’s stopping young people from getting insurance is hard to say, but many young adults are unemployed or receiving low wages, which puts them in a coverage gap and not eligible for the Affordable Health Care Act. If Florida had expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Health Care Act, O’Malley said up to 589,000 currently uninsured 18- to 34-year-olds in Florida could be eligible for coverage.

O’Malley said Navigators can help residents through the process of enrollment.

“With personal face-to-face assistance, people have an opportunity to talk with trained, knowledgeable persons,” O’Malley said. “It makes a difference in getting people enrolled.”

Read the article online here.

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