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Saturday, May 26, 2018
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A new year’s resolution to get covered

Irene Jacusis of New Port Richey celebrated the first week in January by doing something she had put off for a while: She scheduled an appointment to have surgery to remove a benign tumor.

Though it may not qualify as your average New Year’s resolution, Irene knew it was important to do from personal experience: Her husband passed away after a fight with cancer while they were uninsured. After that, Irene took it upon herself to be vigilant about her health and can now afford to do so because she is covered by a marketplace health insurance plan.

Before she was able to get covered, she wasn’t sure what to do. She couldn’t afford the $5,000 deductible to have surgery with her old plan and worried that she would end up putting off treatment too long, like her husband. She worried she may never be able to find better coverage because of her pre-existing condition. But relief came after Oct. 1 when she was able to enroll in an affordable plan on the Health Insurance Marketplace.

Irene is now able to afford her surgery under her new silver plan, which has a $1,600 deductible, and with the financial assistance that was offered to her, a monthly premium of $150 a month. And she’s not the only one. More than 158,000 Floridians now have more affordable plans and better coverage, according to numbers released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services last week.

Nearly 3.5 million Floridians are without health insurance. There are working mothers who live in fear that one unexpected illness will bankrupt their families. There are young people looking for their first quality job and unable to afford insurance. There are families afraid to let their children play sports because they couldn’t afford to pay to mend a broken leg.

No family should have to worry that one sudden illness or injury could spell financial ruin.

In many cases, consumers will get help paying for the cost of their new insurance or qualify for low-cost options. For example, nearly 6 in 10 Americans who are uninsured and eligible for coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace can find a plan that costs them $100 or less a month.

Get Covered America and Florida Covering Kids and Families and Florida CHAIN are finding that many of the uninsured want help navigating the Health Insurance Marketplace. Floridians can explore the marketplace at www.healthcare.gov, over the phone or in person with certified assisters to find an insurance plan that fits their needs and budgets.

Every plan offered on the marketplace must cover the essentials: hospital visits, prescriptions, maternity care and more. Federally certified “navigators” such as Florida Covering Kids and Families are available to assist consumers with the enrollment process.

Though the initial rollout of the HealthCare.gov website was rocky, significant improvements have been made, and we’re hearing of more and more consumers successfully navigating the website application process.

The Affordable Care Act is about providing quality, affordable health care coverage to America’s families.

Irene’s story is encouraging, and many other Floridians may find similar success in the Health Insurance Marketplace. There is still time to explore options and choose the plan that is best for you.

Nicholas Duran is state director of Get Covered America–Florida. Jodi Ray is program director for Florida Covering Kids and Families. Leah Barber-Heinz is executive director of Florida CHAIN.

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