by Ronnie Lovler, SRAHEC
Open enrollment for the Health Insurance Marketplace began Nov. 1. Individuals and families in North Central Florida enrolling in coverage for the first time or continuing their existing health coverage for 2017 may review their health insurance options with the assistance of a Navigator.
Suwannee River Area Health Education Center (SRAHEC) navigators will continue to provide assistance at no cost to consumers in 15 North Central Florida counties. This is the fourth year that trained SRAHEC Navigators helped local consumers explore their health insurance options through the Marketplace. This year, SRAHEC has expanded its coverage area through a direct partnership with Florida Covering Kids & Families at the University of South Florida’s College of Public Health. Florida Covering Kids & Families and regional partners provide Navigator services to all 67 Florida counties.
“We are excited to be a part of this nationwide effort and want to be sure that we reach as many people as we can,” said SRAHEC executive director Sarah Catalanotto. “We will be doing everything we can to make sure that people in the counties we cover know their options and what is available to them through the Health Insurance Marketplace.”
SRAHEC is a public health nonprofit located in Alachua that seeks to promote and provide quality health connections for the community it serves.
SRAHEC navigators serve 15 North Central Florida counties: Alachua, Bradford, Citrus, Columbia, Dixie, Gilchrist, Hamilton, Hernando, Lafayette, Levy, Marion, Putnam, Sumter, Suwannee, Union.
“Those of us working as navigators see it as a privilege,” said senior navigator Ronnie Lovler, who serves all Spanish speakers in SRAHEC’s coverage area. “It makes us especially happy when we are able to connect someone with health insurance who has never had it before.”
During open enrollment, consumers may create a Marketplace account, review available health insurance coverage, and see if they qualify for help paying for costs. Consumers who currently have Marketplace coverage should review their applications to make sure they are up-to-date and to report any life changes.
Consumers who enroll in insurance coverage by Dec. 15, and make their first payment, will have coverage beginning Jan. 1. 2017. Open enrollment ends Jan. 31 and consumers who sign up by this date will have coverage beginning March 1.
Under terms of the Affordable Care Act, health insurance is mandatory for anyone who can afford it. Those who choose not to get it will face a tax penalty.
You can find out your navigator’s schedule or make an appointment by calling 386-292-2947 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.