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Here are some reasons why Florida leads the nation in Affordable Care Act enrollment

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Flickr Creative Commons
More than three million Floridians have enrolled in the Affordable Care Act Marketplace, up half a million from last year.

Over 3.2 million Floridians signed up for health insurance benefits through the ACA Marketplace.

Florida leads the nation in health insurance enrollment through the Affordable Care Act, according to a release from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Over 3.2 million people in the state signed up for the benefits through the Marketplace. That’s nearly 500,000 more than last year.

Nationwide, more than 16.3 million people chose the Marketplace health plan during open enrollment, which wrapped up Jan. 15. This is the tenth year of the ACA Marketplace, also known as Obamacare.

According to a press release, the number of people who have signed up for an affordable health care plan through HealthCare.gov has increased by nearly 50% since President Joe Biden took office.

Rep. Kathy Castor (D-Tampa) credits the recently-passed Inflation Reduction Act and the University of South Florida-led Navigators for the state's record enrollment.

“Floridians will save an average of $590/year, spending no more than 8.5% of their income on premiums, while receiving all the benefits of the Affordable Care Act including coverage for preexisting conditions like cancer and diabetes,” Castor said in an email.

Jodi Ray is the Director of Florida Covering Kids and Families at USF.

While the group has been helping families in the Tampa Bay area for the past 20 years, recently, she’s had more resources and new strategies for getting information to the community.

There's been a special emphasis placed on due dates for applications, but most importantly, Ray said, is that people know where they can go for help.

“Because then you get all your questions answered,” she said. “And you really don't have to be an expert in health insurance, or the marketplace or the Affordable Care Act, because if you get help from the right folks, you will get that quality health care, education and health literacy support.”

Prior to the ACA, Ray said a lot of parents could not get coverage.

“Now we [can]. [Navigators] help the entire family enroll into healthcare coverage and access health care,” Ray said.

The navigators, who are located in every Florida county, are federally funded with no commissions exchanged with the healthcare companies. Ray said that allows them to be truly objective.

“We're able to walk through all the plans available in the marketplace and help folks understand what these plans consist of — sort of an apples to apples comparison — and for the consumer to be able to make an informed and educated decision on what's the best health plan for them.”

For certain cases, people can still enroll for coverage during the special enrollment period, which ends Oct. 31, 2023.

“Folks that experience life changes, you know, moving, getting married, getting divorced, having babies, all of those kinds of things can trigger a special enrollment,” Ray said.

She also noted that millions of Floridians will be affected by the upcoming public health unwinding, where the continuous coverage for Medicaid recipients will end. This spring, ineligible Medicaid recipients could be disenrolled from the program.

RELATED: State projects 1.75 million Floridians could lose Medicaid coverage as pandemic-era law expires

Since the coronavirus pandemic began in 2020, the federal government allowed Medicaid recipients to get continuous coverage. A provision in a spending bill passed late last year once again let states remove beneficiaries.

While officials with the Florida Department for Children and Families say they have identified about 900,000 cases of ineligible people, no one has yet been disenrolled from Medicaid, according to Ray. She added those enrolled should keep an eye on their mailboxes for a letter with a yellow stripe that will let people know if they are still eligible.

To get in contact with a navigator near you, visit CoveringFlorida.org or call directly at 877-813-9115.

Nothing about my life has been typical. Before I fell in love with radio journalism, I enjoyed a long career in the arts in musical theatre.