More Floridians expected to seek ACA coverage after Medicaid redeterminations
"We could see a pretty significant increase," says Jodi Ray, of Florida Covering Kids & Families, which provides free navigator services to anyone in need. The enrollment period began Wednesday.
The navigators who help people pick health insurance plans expect record enrollment in the Affordable Care Act’s federal marketplace for 2024.
Last year, Florida led the nation in the number of enrollees through the marketplace. More than 3.2 million Florida residents signed up for plans at healthcare.gov. That was an increase of more than 500,000 people from the previous year.
That number is expected to be larger this year with the addition of Floridians dropped from Medicaid plans they qualified for during the pandemic.
"We could see a pretty significant increase in our enrollment numbers this year, based on some of that, because I think the Medicaid program probably captured a lot of people during the pandemic that maybe never have used some of the public coverage options," said Jodi Ray, director of Florida Covering Kids & Families.
The Medicaid “redetermination” process was triggered by the March 31 end of a federal COVID public health emergency, which began in 2020. During that provision, Florida and other states could not drop people from the program for reasons such as not meeting income-eligibility requirements.
To help people make the best choice in health insurance, the federal government funds helpers called navigators, free for the enrollee. Florida Covering Kids & Families partners with other organizations across the state to provide navigator services.
Ray encourages people to reach out for help to navigate the wide array of plans.
"We have sometimes upwards of 150 plans in the Tampa Bay area. That's a lot of information for an individual to process," Ray said.
The period to sign up began Wednesday (Nov. 1) and ends Jan. 16 for those who want coverage starting in February.
Florida Covering Kids & Families is based at the University of South Florida, part of the statewide nonprofit initiative Covering Florida.