Health insurance help available before deadline

January 22, 2016




Special to The Sun
By Lauren Vagelakos

Open enrollment for the Health Insurance Marketplace has been underway since Nov. 1 and ends Jan. 31. If you wish to enroll in health coverage for the year, you must pick a health plan on before the end of the month or you may face financial penalties.

The penalty for not having health coverage in 2016 has gone up significantly from previous years — the fee for not having health insurance in 2016 is $695 per adult ($347.50 per child) or 2.5 percent of household income, whichever is greater.

Consumers who enroll in coverage on may be eligible to receive financial help through the Marketplace to pay for monthly premiums. This financial help comes in the form of premium tax credits or cost-sharing reductions. About 8 in 10 of the uninsured who are eligible for Marketplace coverage qualify for financial assistance to lower the cost of their monthly premiums.

There is free enrollment assistance available in North Central Florida through the Health Insurance Marketplace Navigators. Navigators are trained and certified to provide free, unbiased assistance to guide you through the enrollment process.

If you have questions about the Marketplace, want to review your coverage options, change your health insurance plan, or apply for coverage for the first time, the Health Insurance Marketplace Navigators are here to help. To contact a Navigator in your area or for more information, visit or call 352-299-0380.

Also, there will be a last-chance enrollment event taking place in Gainesville at the Santa Fe CIED (530 West University Ave.) on Jan. 30 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Health Insurance Marketplace Navigators from WellFlorida Council will be providing free enrollment assistance to help individuals and families enroll or re-enroll in health insurance prior to the Jan. 31 deadline.

Several area Navigators will be available at the event to assist, including Navigators who are fluent in Spanish. Walk-ins and RSVPs are both welcome. If you wish to RSVP, please and search by zip code 32601 (the zip code for the CIED).

Jan. 31 is absolutely the last day that consumers can enroll for 2016 health coverage. Don’t get caught missing the deadline and have to pay a penalty — meet with a Navigator before the deadline to ensure you enroll in health insurance for the year.

— Lauren Vagelakos, an associate planner at WellFlorida Council, is the manager of the Health Insurance Marketplace Navigator program, which provides free enrollment assistance to 15 counties in North Central Florida.

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