Navigators help with insurance sign up and financial assistance through marketplace

October 30, 2015




Cedar Key News

Gainesville, Fla. (October 26, 2015) — Open enrollment for the Health Insurance Marketplace starts November 1 and ends January 31, 2016. Navigators in North Central Florida are available for free to help people compare plans, learn about financial assistance and sign up for insurance through the Marketplace.

Roughly 1.27 million Floridians have affordable health coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace, Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Still, over 3 million Floridians remain uninsured.

According to Enroll America, a nonprofit healthcare enrollment coalition, millions will qualify for assistance to cover the costs of health insurance in 2016 and most Americans in the Marketplace are paying no more than $100 for their insurance each month.

All plans offered through the Marketplace must cover essential health benefits, including doctor and emergency room visits, hospitalizations, maternity care, prescriptions and more.

“No one plans to get sick or injured, but when the unexpected occurs, you want to know that you and your family are covered,” said Lauren Vagelakos, the Navigator program manager of WellFlorida Council. “Other incentives for getting insured include the fact that medical debt is the number one cause of bankruptcy in the U.S. and that there are now significant penalties for not being insured.”

For individuals who choose not to receive coverage for 2016, a fee of $695, or 2.5% of their income, which ever is greater, will be imposed.

To contact a Navigator in North Central Florida or locate events where you can enlist the free help of a Navigator, please visit The resources page of the website also provides links to calculators that estimate insurance costs through the Marketplace and penalty costs for those who remain uninsured. Also included are links to resources for people who fall into the “coverage gap”—Floridians not covered by Medicaid and who do not qualify for savings through the Marketplace.

WellFlorida Council, the region’s health council and consultant for health causes, oversees the Health Insurance Navigator program in 15 counties. The following organizations are subcontracted to provide Navigator services throughout North Central Florida: Azalea Health, Gulfcoast North AHEC, Palms Medical Group and Suwannee River AHEC.

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