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FL Leads Nation In Obamacare Signups

December 15 is the deadline to renew or enroll in ACA health-care plans for those wishing for coverage to begin in January.
December 15 is the deadline to renew or enroll in ACA health-care plans for those wishing for coverage to begin in January.
December 7, 2015

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - It's been a very busy month for those helping to enroll Floridians in health insurance plans under the Affordable Care Act, but those on the ground say there's still more work to be done to reach the state's uninsured.

Right now, Florida leads the nation for the number of people enrolling or renewing coverage in health insurance plans during the current open enrollment, with nearly 445,000 people in the past four weeks.

Cheryl Fish-Parcham, private insurance program director with the nonprofit Families USA, says the state still has a long way to go, especially when it comes to reaching traditionally underserved populations, where she says the need for preventive services is great.

"For example, Latino adults are 80 percent more likely to have diabetes than whites," says Fish-Parcham. "Latino teenagers are 80 percent more likely to have attempted suicide than whites. And so screening for diabetes and depression can help identify problems early and get people into needed treatment."

The current enrollment window is open through the end of next month, but those looking for coverage to begin on January first must enroll by Dec. 15. Free enrollment assistance is available across the state and can be found by logging on to

Fish-Parcham says those who have previously enrolled might be able to find a lower-premium plan by returning to the marketplace, and she urges all Floridians to think carefully about the high price tag that can come with foregoing coverage.

"It's important to consider the costs that you would pay if you didn't get coverage, which could include the financial penalties plus enormous health-care costs," she says.

In 2016, the fines for those who do not have coverage or have health insurance through their employer or a federal program such as Medicaid will increase to $695, or 2.5 percent of household income, whichever amount is greater.

Fish-Parcham notes in many cases, $695 could purchase a full year's coverage.

Mona Shand, Public News Service - FL