Obamacare in Florida: Day 1
Floridians are gaining access to affordable, quality health insurance through the Affordable Care Act. Demand is high and projected to rise, with individuals and small business owners giving enthusiastic interviews to the press yesterday.
While the House GOP attempts to sabotage access to health care for millions of Americans by shutting down the government, Florida's ACA marketplace has come online and is beginning to improve the lives of Floridians. Here is a quick look at day one.
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One of the first people in the office was 20-year-old Chris Dawson, a USF senior majoring in public health. He hasn't had insurance in the two years since he aged out of a government plan for children.
While uninsured, Dawson has hurt his ankle and had bronchitis. He has gone to a student health clinic, but has never had his ankle X-rayed.
"The government is not perfect, but it is great to see a movement toward helping people," he said.
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Anchor: "The government shutdown isn't stopping today's online enrollment for the Affordable Care Act here in Central Florida. There are four locations,in Orlando, Kissimme, Longwood, and Eustis, where you can get help finding an insurance plan that works for you. Here is some video of health care navigators helping people in downtown Orlando…Florida residents can also choose from 102 plans, that is the second highest of any state."
Alex Taboas, Business Owner: "This navigation program is definitely helpful, I hope they get the word out to a lot of people."
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“The first thing we’re noticing is that traffic to our various sales channels is up quite a bit from prior weeks, as we expected,” said Craig Thomas, senior vice president and chief strategy and marketing officer. “Calls into call centers, visitors into retail centers across the state and agents across the state — it’s been pretty heavy.”
Florida Blue has between 800,000 and 900,000 customers who buy individual insurance plans right now, and Thomas said the company expects to double that market segment in the first 12 to 15 months of the exchange.
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"For Florida, where an estimated 3.8 million people live without health insurance, the exchanges could make an especially big impact. The state ranks near the top of the nation in terms of plan choices, with an average of 102 health plans offered on the federally-run exchange."
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“It’s very simple, it’s easy," said Arjoonsingh, one of 20 application advisers for BHA.
The nationwide rollout comes after months of buildup in which the marketplaces have been both praised and vilified.