Deadline for Jan. 1 Coverage Nears

Dec 10, 2014

Monday’s an important deadline for Floridians shopping for insurance on HealthCare.gov.

Nearly a million residents signed up on this federally run marketplace last year. Now those wanting to re-enroll -- or sign up for the first time for coverage -- must select a plan by Monday if they want to be covered starting at the beginning of the New Year.

People who want help understanding what the different private insurance plans cost and provide in terms of services, can find free navigators in their community, said Jodi Ray, director of Florida’s Covering Kids & Families, one of the organizations overseeing navigator services in Florida.

“You can go to the Localhelp.healthcare.gov website, and you will see a list of navigators and other assisters in any given zip code,” she said. “So that is really helpful to people if they want to find somebody that can help them that is close by.”

The Epilepsy Foundation of Florida - another group helping with HealthCare.gov sign up -- will be holding events across Florida this weekend. Malls, medical centers and libraries are among the locations where assistance will be available. Visit EFOF.org for specific times and locations.  

Overall, the majority of Florida’s 19 million residents are covered by plans offered through their jobs or Medicare – the federal health insurance program for seniors. HealthCare.gov exists for those who don’t have access to an employer-based plan, or couldn’t afford buying coverage on their own.

Last year, more than 90 percent of the Floridians choosing plans on the marketplace had incomes low enough that qualified them for subsidies on their monthly premiums. Subsidies are available for a family of four earning between $23,850 and about $90,000.

Ray said those who picked health insurance plans through HealthCare.gov a year ago can’t assume their coverage, policy or financial support will remain the same in 2015.

Those who already have a policy will be automatically re-enrolled -- maybe for something they don't want -- if they don't log on, update income information and officially select a new insurance plan, she said. A family’s income determines the subsidy available to pay the monthly premium.

“There is a risk of your premium increasing,” she said. “They are going to use the information they have available at HealthCare.gov to determine the financial assistance that is available to the individual. And it’s possible that may not look the same as last year.”

Enrollment on the marketplace continues until Feburary 15. However, plans completed after Monday won't be effective until after January 1 or later.

--Health News Florida Editor Mary Shedden is part of WUSF Public Media in Tampa. Contact Shedden at (813) 974-8636, on Twitter @MaryShedden, or email at shedden@wusf.org. Health News Florida receives support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.