Nine-year-old Joshua Green will be able to breathe easier – literally – now that he has health insurance obtained through the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
His mother, Tessa Kirby, breathed a sigh of relief knowing that now her son, who developed asthma when he was just a few months old, will have the medication he needs. She had never been able to afford health insurance to properly care for her son’s condition.
“It has been heartbreaking for me to see him suffering, but insurance was a luxury I just couldn’t afford,” Kirby said.
Kirby came to Community Health of South Florida Inc. (CHI) to enroll in ACA, commonly known as Obamacare. With the help of one of 20 CHI outreach and enrollment specialists, her son qualified for a Medicaid program called the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). ACA extends funding for CHIP through Fiscal Year 2015.
Delighted that ACA offers insurance to children and young adults up to the age of 26, Kirby said, “Now my son can have regular checkups and keep his asthma under control. I’m so happy.”
Open enrollment for the 2015 ACA year began Nov. 15 and runs through Feb. 15, 2015. CHI is prepared to deal with a great influx of people seeking health insurance.
Since the first enrollment period that began Oct. 1, 2013, CHI hired 20 full-time outreach and enrollment specialists assisting applicants through the registration process. To date, they have assisted nearly 25,000 individuals and enrolled almost 11,500. These specialists will continue to work full time through the next enrollment period.
“Because we value patient care, we will be offering extended hours for enrollment in order to better accommodate our patients’ schedules,” said Eduardo Herrera, coordinator for Outreach and Enrollment Programs.
The act offers five levels of coverage. This allows you to choose the option best suited to you and your family. Costs differ for the various levels based on ZIP code, family income and size, smokers and for those older than 50 years old.
“The great thing about his plan is it does not exclude anyone for having pre-existing conditions,” Herrera said. “So patients like young Joshua Green will benefit greatly from this.”
If you don’t sign up for healthcare coverage for 2015, it might result in a tax penalty fee of $325 or 2 percent of an individual’s annual income. For children younger than 18, there is an additional $167.50 fee. Anyone who incurs this penalty will have it deducted from their taxes.
“Everyone, whether they qualify or not, should enroll in the Health Insurance Marketplace,” Herrera continued. “This will ensure in writing that those who do not qualify will not be responsible to pay a tax penalty.”
You can always find an outreach and enrollment specialist at most of CHI’s 10 health centers. For a one-on-one free appointment, call 786-272-2100.