HNF Stories
12:10 am
Fri May 10, 2013

Community Clinics to Offer Obamacare Enrollment

Four dozen community health centers in Florida are eligible to share $8 million in federal grants to become enrollment centers for uninsured people who need to sign up for subsidized insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act, the Obama administration announced Thursday.

Johnnie Ruth Clarke Center is part of Community Health Centers of Pinellas.

The Florida grant funding is part of $150 million available nationwide to offer in-person enrollment assistance for the uninsured, Kaiser Health News reports.

The list of community health centers in Florida that are eligible to apply for the grants is posted on the Health Resources and Services Administration web site. Applications are due the end of this month.

A federally built online shopping site for the uninsured to enroll in a health plan is supposed to be ready by Oct. 1 for states that have decided not to build their own, including Florida. The coverage would begin Jan. 1.

Insurance applicants who are accustomed to booking travel online or ordering books from Amazon may be able to handle the enrollment themselves.

But others may need face-to-face assistance. Because community health centers are accustomed to dealing with uninsured patients, they would be a good place for that help to be provided, officials said.

The subsidies for low- and modest-income applicants come in the form of up-front tax credits, on a sliding scale.  They are available to uninsured individuals and families with incomes between 100 percent and 400 percent of the federal poverty level.

For an individual, 100 percent of the poverty level would  be about $11,500 and for a family of four, it would be about $23,500, according to a chart published by Families USA. Those applicants would receive the largest subsidies.

An income of 400 percent of the poverty level would be just under $46,000 for one person and more than $94,000 for a family of four, the chart shows. At that income range, the insurance discounts would be the smallest.

No subsidies are available for uninsured persons with incomes below the poverty level because the ACA anticipated they would become enrolled in an expansion of Medicaid. However, the Supreme Court ruled that states could not be forced to participate in that expansion; the Florida House opted out in the session that ended last week.

People who are already insured through their employers, the military, or some other method can keep that coverage as long as it meets the minimum requirements under the ACA.