By the time this magazine hits the streets, we will be less than two weeks from the deadline to sign up or renew your healthcare insurance plan at healthcare.gov — the only marketplace in Florida for selecting a healthcare plan and (if qualified) getting a subsidy to help pay for that plan — under the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a., Obamacare).
As I shared last edition, the deadline to sign up or renew is February 15. Another important thing to note: If you miss this deadline, and then a few weeks afterward go to file your taxes and you do not have health insurance, you could be fined. So, before time runs out, I recommend that you take a good look at all your options for healthcare coverage.
For the most part, Floridians are taking action. As of January 14, the sign-up and renewal numbers of Florida residents using healthcare.gov were released. According to federal health officials, 1,190,922 of our state’s citizens have registered since the current open enrollment period began. As of January 14, Florida had the most people by far using the federal healthcare marketplace to enroll in or renew an insurance plan. That, of course, does not count the figures for sign-ups in states that offer their own online marketplace to sign up or renew for Obamacare.
For those of us in more rural areas, there is a small silver lining. At first, the only provider that offered coverage for all 67 Florida counties under the federal healthcare exchange was Florida Blue. Currently, two more companies have expanded to offer plans at healthcare.gov for all counties: Assurant Health and UnitedHealthcare.
So, how will all of these new sign-ups and renewals affect the healthcare industry and the health of our community? Hopefully, for the better. But only time will tell. We will keep you informed, so remember to keep reading Central Florida Health News magazine, and connect with us online at www.CentralFloridaHealthNews.com.
column by NELSON KIRKLAND
Nelson Kirkland is publisher of Central Florida Health News. He may be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.