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Florida sees huge increase in Obamacare recipients as end of enrollment approaches

The HealthCare.gov website.
Jon Elswick
The HealthCare.gov website.

With the end of the Affordable Care Act insurance enrollment period approaching, Florida represents more than a fourth of all newly selected insurance plans in the nation, according to national data.

Since open enrollment started Nov. 1, Florida has enrolled 800,000 new insurance plans, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services reported in the final week of enrollment for marketplace insurance. Enrollment ends after 11:59 p.m. Tuesday.

So far, the ACA has seen 4 million new plans selected by consumers across the country, totaling 20 million insurance plans — also known as Obamacare. Florida saw the second-largest increase in the nation, behind Texas which recorded 880,000 new plans.

Increases in enrollees

In Central Florida, thePrimary Care Access Network (PCAN)recorded a nearly 18% increase in new enrollees seeking plans.

PCAN is an organization that helps consumers in Central Florida navigate the insurance marketplace to find the best plan for all personal needs. PCAN is a free resource and has 17 navigators who are fluent in Vietnamese, Ukrainian, Russian, Portuguese, Creole, and Spanish.

Lisa Reineck, the PCAN program manager, said she wasn't surprised by the rising number of new consumers in Central Florida.

"We have a broad scope in those four counties. I think the number could grow even more. But there's clearly a need," Reineck said. "In addition to where we are economically in the country, I don't think it's surprising at all."

PCAN's increased outreach efforts and advertising are thought to be partially responsible for the local growth, but new tax credits and the expansion of immigration statuses have allowed more people to qualify for insurance, said Rebecca Sayago the PCAN executive director. Earlier in December, the Department of Homeland Security extended the re-registration periods for the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designations of El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua, and Sudan until March 2025.

"The TPS expanded for another 24 months. That allows a lot of individuals and families to be eligible for these tax credits in the insurance marketplace," she said. "All these little bits and pieces have impacted the ability of our navigators to access more consumers in need of having a health care plan."

How to enroll in Marketplace Insurance

The best way to find out if someone qualifies for an ACA plan is to call PCAN's navigators. Those interested can schedule an appointment with a navigator by visiting Coveringcfl.net or by calling 1-877-564-5031.

Returning customers should reserve 30 minutes of their day to work with a navigator. New customers should prepare at least 90 minutes.

The final day of enrollment is Tuesday, but special enrollment will open starting Wednesday and will last through Oct. 31. Those who qualify for special enrollment include life-changing situations such as adopting a child, losing a job, losing insurance, or getting divorced.

Copyright 2024 WMFE. To see more, visit WMFE.

Joe Mario Pedersen