Lauren Vagelakos: Insurance deadline coming up

Special to The Gainesville Sun

Open enrollment for the Health Insurance Marketplace has been fast underway since Nov. 15. During open enrollment, consumers are able to log on to Healthcare.gov and view plans available to them, as well as enroll in coverage. The timeframe to apply for 2015 coverage is almost over — open enrollment ends on Feb. 15.

After Feb. 15, enrollment will be closed for all consumers unless they experience a life-changing event such as marriage, divorce, having a baby or moving to a new state. The next open enrollment period begins Oct. 15 for 2016 coverage.

With the deadline right around the corner, it is important that you determine your insurance situation to guarantee that you have coverage by the time the Feb. 15 deadline passes. The plan you select will be your coverage for the rest of 2015, so be sure that it contains the elements that are important to you and your family — such as your doctors, covered services and prescriptions. Don’t let you or your loved ones be caught without coverage after the Feb. 15 enrollment deadline.

If you miss the deadline to enroll this year, not only will you not have health coverage for the remainder of 2015, but you may be subject to a penalty on your 2015 (next year’s) taxes. The penalty for not having coverage in 2015 will be 2 percent of household income or $325 per adult and $162.50 per child, whichever is greater.

As open enrollment for 2015 coverage draws to a close, there are many opportunities for North Central Floridians to get assistance with browsing for coverage options on the marketplace and getting enrolled in coverage. 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. WellFlorida Council has multiple navigators available to provide free, unbiased assistance to guide you through the enrollment process.

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/.

There will be a “Last Chance” enrollment event taking place in Gainesville at Santa Fe CIED (530 W. University Ave.) on Feb. 14 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Health Insurance Marketplace navigators and application assisters will be available to help individuals, families and businesses enroll in health insurance prior to the Feb. 15 deadline. This event is a joint effort by LINKS, Enroll America, WellFlorida Council, Epilepsy Foundation and Santa Fe College.

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

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