Local Hospitals, Organizations Form ACA Enrollment Coalition

By Naseem Miller, The Orlando Sentinel

Local hospitals and community organizations have formed a coalition to help more Central Floridians sign up for health insurance during the Affordable Care Act open enrollment season, which will start on Sunday. 

“We want to make Central Florida a national model on how to do enrollment,” said Anne Packham, project director of the health insurance marketplace enrollment here. “We all need to be working together.” 

Estimates show that nearly a quarter of people living in Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties could be eligible for coverage under ACA. That’s about 340,000 people.

Meanwhile, the penalty for not signing up for a health plan is increasing in 2016, from a minimum of $325 per person this year to $695. 

“That [amount] could potentially cover an individual for up to eight months,” said Jodi Ray, state director of Covering Florida during a news conference on Wednesday. “Or you can pay government a fee.”

This grassroots campaign, The Central Florida Enrollment Coalition, is a collaboration between Heart of Florida United Way, Primary Care Access network, Florida Hospital, Orlando Health, Enroll America and Search Research Analysis International, and it boils down to three digits: 2-1-1.

The number is United Way’s information helpline that’s been in place for more than a decade.

Since late last year, consumers have been able to call 2-1-1 to get information about the health insurance marketplace and set up an appointment with a navigator. 

“But we didn’t do a lot of advertising about it,” said Robert Brown, president and CEO of Heart of Florida United Way. “This year, all the elements came together. We now have a logo and a public campaign and we expect to get more calls and sign ups.” 

Consumers who live in Orange, Osceola, Seminole and Lake counties can call 2-1-1 to schedule an appointment with a marketplace navigator. They can also text their zip code to 898-211 or chat live with a specialist at SignupCentralFL.com. 

“We formed this coalition to help Central Floridians find health insurance,” said Jeff Hurst, senior vice president of finance at Florida Hospital. 

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