Obamacare sign-up help is on the way

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Health insurance enrollment event to be held Sunday

BY ASHLEY D. THOMAS
DAYTONA TIMES

Daytona Beach Mayor Derrick Henry is encouraging every uninsured resident to sign up for health care coverage under the Affordable Care Act this weekend.

Keith Ward helps Cindy Murray navigate the Affordable Care Act and choose the right plan last year at Urban Ministries in Raleigh, N.C. (ROBERT WILLETT/RALEIGH NEWS & OBSERVER/MCT)
Keith Ward helps Cindy Murray navigate the Affordable Care Act and choose the right plan last year at Urban Ministries in Raleigh, N.C.
(ROBERT WILLETT/RALEIGH NEWS & OBSERVER/MCT)

Henry, along with the City of Daytona Beach and Halifax Medical Center, will host an enrollment event on Sunday at Halifax Medical Center on Clyde Morris Boulevard from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

“Health care continues to be a crisis in our community and it is in the best interest of all people who are uninsured to come out and find health care that works for them,” Henry told the Times. Enrollment counselors will be onsite to answer questions and complete the enrollment process. Those attending the event are asked to bring proper documentation including identification, Social Security numbers, proof of income and any existing health insurance information.

Educate the community
Bobby Michaels, the North Florida community organizer for Enroll America, has been going to local events in an effort to educate residents on the upcoming enrollment period. Enroll America is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization tasked with maximizing the number of Americans who are enrolled in and retain health coverage.

“We’re letting everyone know about the next open enrollment period that begins this Saturday, Nov. 15.

There are new options, new benefits and financial aid available,” Michaels told the Daytona Times.

Those seeking insurance will be able to speak with specially trained assistants called navigators to complete the process either online, on the phone or in person. Michaels briefly explained the qualifying process most people can look forward to on Sunday.

“The way that the qualification process works depends on how much income they have coming in,” he shared.

Speak with a navigator
“What we recommend is that they sit down with their local assistors ( navigators), which are all across Daytona, Florida and the nation. They are trained not only by the state but the federal government. They have been trained to walk individuals through the enrollment process and take them step by step, to help them understand what they are qualified for and what financial aid they qualify for.”

“The new law does state that everyone has to have insurance,” Michaels continued. “There are situations where someone may be exempt from that and we recommend that they sit down with a navigator.”

“It’s all up to you as to what type of insurance you are looking for,” Michaels added, sharing that some plans offer dental, vision and health or any combination of the three.

Lack of awareness
Aside from higher penalties and potentially higher health-care costs, a recent poll from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation found that Obamacare may be facing another challenge: awareness.

The poll found that nine out of 10 uninsured Americans are unaware that open enrollment starts on Saturday.

Additionally knowledge of insurance terms show that an insurance education gap is prevalent among Americans, as at least four in 10 of the uninsured can’t identify the definitions of “premiums,” “deductibles,” or “provider network.”

Penalties rise for 2015
Not knowing won’t fend off penalties, which are growing each year. According to healthcare.gov, individuals are facing a penalty of $95 per person, or 1 percent of their income, depending on which is higher for failing to get coverage in 2014. That penalty will be taken out of their tax refund in early 2015.

The penalty for going without coverage in 2015 is even harsher for those in 2016. Skipping out on health coverage in 2015 will face a financial penalty more than triple the current amount rising to $325 per person, or 2 percent of income, whichever is higher. Children will be fined at half the adult rate, or $162.50 for those under 18 years old.

Relief for those penalized
There may be relief for some who face the penalty on their 2014 tax refund however. Those who were uninsured may forgo the penalty for a number of reasons, which include:
You’re uninsured for less than three months of the year; The lowest-priced coverage available to you would cost more than 8 percent of your household income;
You don’t have to file a tax return because your income is too low;
You’re incarcerated (either detained or jailed);
You qualify for a hardship exemption.

March 31 deadline
Hardship exemptions may include (not an exhaustive list) being homeless, filing for bankruptcy in the past six months, experiencing the death of a close family member, receiving a shut-off notice from a utility company, you had medical expenses you couldn’t pay in the last 24 months that resulted in substantial debt or you experienced a fire, flood, or other natural or human-caused disaster that caused substantial damage to your property.

The deadline to purchase health insurance for 2014 to meet the bill’s mandate is March 31.

Sign up for health coverage 24 hours a day, seven days a week at HealthCare.gov or by calling 800-318-2596.

For more information on Sunday’s Get Covered event, call 855-484-8848 or email info@daytonabeachgetscovered.com.

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