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Hospitals Helping with Insurance Signup

Taber Andrew Bain, via Flickr Creative Commons

Some Central Florida hospitals are ramping up plans to get patients signed up for insurance - when they come to the emergency room.

Both Florida Hospital in Orlando and Orlando Health are expanding a program that puts federal health care marketplace navigators in the hospital during the open enrollment season under way.

Trained counselors are already in place at five Orlando Health locations, said Tom Yoesle, the chief operating officer of revenue management for Orlando Health.

“We’re opening up at additional locations at one of those hospitals for additional navigator space,” Yoesle said Tuesday, during U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell’s visit to Orlando.

At  Florida Hospital, 55 percent of the people who come through the emergency room don’t have health insurance. And most of their illnesses can be treated outside of the E.R, said Florida Hospital Senior Finance Officer Jeff Hurst said.

“A lot of times, when patients don’t have appropriate access to coverage and access to care, they wait and wait and wait and wait until their clinical condition deteriorates until they have to come to the emergency room,”  Hurst said.

So far, 765,000 Americans have signed up for health insurance in the health law’s second year. Federal officials are aiming to sign up or reenroll 9.1 million before the Feb. 15 end of open enrollment.

-- Health News Florida reporter Abe Aboraya is part of WMFE in Orlando. Contact him at (407) 273-2300 x 183, on Twitter @AbeAboraya, or email at Health News Florida receives support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.