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The deadline to sign up for 2023 ACA coverage is next week. Here's how to get help.

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The deadline for enrollment into 2023 coverage is Dec. 15, however, those who cannot meet the deadline will have the opportunity to apply for coverage until Jan. 15, but their coverage would begin Feb. 1.

Navigators at USF have received thousands of calls in need of help sorting through the complexities of the health care market, and leaders expect more people to reach out as the deadline looms closer..

The final day to enroll for health insurance coverage through the Affordable Care Act marketplace is next Thursday, Dec. 15.

Health care "navigators" at the University of South Florida have received thousands of calls in need of help sorting through the complexities of the market, and leaders expect those calls to increase as the deadline looms closer.

Since enrollment opened Nov. 1, nearly 5.5 million Americans have selected a plan - an 18 percent increase from last year, according to data released Wednesday by the Centers for Medicaid & Medicare Services. That includes 1.2 million who are new to the marketplace.

Nearly 900,000 enrollees during those first five weeks are from Florida, according to USF's Florida Covering Kids & Families, which provides education, training and enrollment assistance to help individuals obtain health coverage. The organization is part of the University of South Florida College of Public Health.

Those who do not meet the deadline for 2023 coverage can still sign up before Jan. 15, in which case coverage will begin Feb. 1, but they will not have coverage in January.

Jodi Ray, director of Florida Covering Kids & Families, said marketplace navigators are available to help families figure out the best plan for their specific needs.

“We provide access to all the health plans in the marketplace and help consumers understand what all their options are so that they can make what would be an informed decision. So, we help them navigate that process. We also help them to understand the complexity of comparing different plans when you're talking about deductibles and coinsurance and all of that stuff,” Ray said.

First-time marketplace users can search for a plan without the use of a navigator, but Ray doesn't recommend it. While some consumers may be looking for any kind of coverage, some families are looking for plans to cover specific medications or ways to keep their family doctors.

Families with specific needs should consider consulting a navigator, a process that is free to use, Ray said.

“What's difficult is navigating the complexity of individual lives, and applying that in a way that is correct and appropriate so that they can avail themselves of what tax credits or what cost sharing is out there, and understand how that's going to affect their access to care,” she said.

Families can find a navigator by visiting Healthcare.gov and clicking on “Find Local Help.” They can also call 877-813-9115.

Ray said the last week of enrollment will be intense with callers and availability will be scarce, but appointments can be made at night and over the weekend.

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