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Navigators Busy As Affordable Care Act Deadline Approaches


The deadline to sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act is just over a week away and the local health care navigators are busy signing up new people for health insurance all over the panhandle. 

During his State of the Union address last month, President Obama talked about the success of the Affordable Care Act after its first year in full force. He said over 10 million people now have health insurance because of his signature law, and Florida accounts for a huge percentage of that number. As of January 31st nearly 20% of the people who enrolled in health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, what some people call Obamacare, live in the Sunshine State.

That means Cory Brown has been very busy. Cory Brown is the Benefits Program Manager at 90 Works in Pensacola. She and her group of navigators have been all over the panhandle the past few months as this year’s open enrollment period begins to wind down. The deadline to enroll is Sunday, February 15. Brown says that even if you enrolled in a plan last year, you may need to go through the process again.

90 Works is the official headquarters for the Affordable Care Act navigators and serves a 10 county area in the panhandle from Escambia to Bay counties. Brown says they see people from all walks of life. High, middle and low income people have come to the group for help navigating the national health insurance exchange. Brown says all people who apply qualify for health insurance regardless of preexisting conditions and most qualify for tax credits to help pay for the plans.

Those tax credits can make insurance plans that would have been out of the reach for many people fit in a family’s budget. Since the Florida legislature has not expanded Medicaid under the ACA, there will be some low income people who will not be able to receive help to get insurance. In those cases Brown says they refer the clients to other agencies who may be able to help them with their health care.

As we head into the final week of open enrollment, Cory Brown says 90 Works will be holding several open enrollment events for people who need help applying for health insurance.

They will be at the 90 Works office at 384 Miracle Strip Parkway in Fort Walton Beach on Friday February 6 and Monday, February 9.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, February 10 and 11 they will be at the Milton office at 5139 Elmira street, Milton.

Next Thursday there will be an event in Marianna in Jackson County.

On Friday the 13 they will be at the 90 Works office on Baylen Street in Pensacola. Cory Brown also says if the need is there they will schedule people on Saturday and Sunday of the final weekend leading up to that February 15th deadline. If you need information or would like to schedule an appointment you can call 855 90 WORKS extension 5. And of course if you don’t think you’ll need help with the process, you can always enroll yourself on line at healthcare.gov.

Bob Barrett has been a radio broadcaster since the mid 1970s and has worked at stations from northern New York to south Florida and, oddly, has been able to make a living that way. He began work in public radio in 2001. Over the years he has produced nationally syndicated programs such as The Environment Show and The Health Show for Northeast Public Radio's National Productions.