The deadline to get health insurance under Obamacare for the start of 2016 is less than two weeks away, and Floridians are by far the largest group of consumers signing up for plans.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on Wednesday said that 444,711 of the more than 2 million people selecting plans on HealthCare.gov in the first two years of enrollment came from the Sunshine State.
Florida’s enrollment numbers far surpass those in the more than three-dozen states using the federal marketplace. Texas is second in the number of enrollees for 2016, with 224,791 signups.
About 71 percent of the uninsured individuals selecting plans want in-person help, said Jessica Kendall with the Families USA, a non-partisan group that supports enrollment efforts on the marketplace.
“So we know people want help applying for coverage,” Kendall said. “And we know when they go in to actually get that help, it’s trying to figure out what does this actually mean, what’s a premium, what’s a deductible, and how do I pick the best plan for me.”
Consumers must buy insurance by Dec. 15 to have health care by Jan. 1, a requirement of the Affordable Care Act. Most consumers must carry insurance, or pay a penalty that jumps to $695 dollars or 2 percent of income.
Gary Brock of Volusia County said he has bought an insurance plan on HealthCare.gov three years in a row. HealthCare.gov is the only place where individuals can apply and qualify for subsidies to help with monthly premiums.
“Last year I got some cactus shoots in my eye,” Brock said. “I thought I was going blind. I went to the hospital, and thank God I had the insurance. It only cost me $100. That could have wiped me right out.”
Abe Aboraya is a reporter at WMFE in Orlando. Mary Shedden reports for WUSF in Tampa. Both stations are partners with Health News Florida, which receives support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.