BY JAMES HARPER
More than 82,000 Volusia County residents have no health insurance.
They now have six months to get insurance or could face a $95 fee, according to a representative of an agency who received a federal grant to answer questions about the Affordable Care Act, which went effect on Tuesday.
With the opening of the Federal Insurance Marketplace on Oct. 1, questions abound about the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare, as it is also known.
For the first time, citizens without health insurance are able to go to the Federal Insurance Marketplace located at website www.HealthCare.gov to sign up for affordable insurance.
Joyce Case with the Health Planning Council of Northeast Florida, which has an office in Daytona Beach and Jacksonville, is the project director for the Navigator program.
Case will have eight people working under her known as navigators who will identify and assist uninsured families in understanding their insurance options through the marketplace and provide guidance in completing the application.
The navigators underwent special training, vetting and background checks.
Case said there are three events scheduled this month where residents can meet the navigators and get their questions answered.
Where to get help
So far, events are set at the Port Orange Library for Oct. 17, 1:30 -3 p.m.; New Smyrna Beach Library, Oct. 21, 10 a.m. to noon; and the Edgewater Library Nov. 6, 1-3 p.m.
Case said residents who have Medicaid, Tricare, veterans benefits, CHIPs or health insurance from their current job are not required to do anything to change their health insurance unless they are not happy with their current coverage.
They are also welcome to these events to have their questions answered.
The Health Planning Council was selected in August by the University of South Florida as the consortium partner for Baker, Clay, Duval, Flagler, Nassau, St. John’s and Volusia counties after the University of South Florida received one of several “Navigator Grants” for the state by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
Other responsibilities of the navigators will include interviewing uninsured families to obtain information needed for the online application, explaining the application process, program requirements and timelines to eligible individuals, completing the online application process, if necessary, and conduct computer-based enrollment at community sites in certain geographic.
Beware of scams
Case said the navigators would be responsible for debunking any myths and falsehoods that have been spread about the Affordable Care Act.
She said it is not true the government is building a database of personal information or that people will be going door to door to get them registered. She also noted people do not need to pay anyone to help them enroll.
She added people should be aware of scams and cautions them to not give out their email address or personal information to anyone calling or visiting their home.
In an interview with the Daytona Times, Case said the Health Planning Council (HPC) is the only non-partisan, non-government health planning group in the region.
HPC will work in collaboration with USF as one of 11 statewide consortium partners to conduct public education activities for consumers and small employers to raise awareness about the insurance changes.
Case noted there are two other important dates citizens should be aware of – Jan 1, when coverage begins, and March 31, when open enrollment closes.