CHI helping area residents access ACA Marketplace

Linda Epps has spent her career caring for others. Yet this self-employed home healthcare provider has struggled to maintain her own healthcare.

“I just couldn’t afford it on my salary” she confessed with misty eyes.

Epps has been without health insurance for seven years. Five years ago she was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. Without insurance she has not been able to properly care for herself and take the suggested medication to control her sugar levels.

“I know that’s dangerous. I am the sole supporter of two daughters and I need to be healthy for them,” she continued.

So like many others eager for help, Epps went to Community Health of South Florida Inc. (CHI) on Oct. 1. It was the nationwide enrollment launch date for the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

It has been a complicated issue for many over the past few years that left many wondering how it would affect them. Coverage, pricing and eligibility questions seemed confusing for some. To address those concerns and help educate the community, CHI held an informational program and invited speakers from various agencies to explain everything about the new healthcare program. The event also involved oneon- one enrollment assistance.

Hundreds showed up at the Doris Ison Center 10300 SW 216 St., for CHI’s program. However outreach and enrollment staff had to take down names and contact information because the government’s website wasn’t functioning properly. By the end of the day they had close to 250 people to follow up with for enrollment assistance as soon as the Marketplace website was functioning again. One of those names on the list was Linda Epps. Despite the temporary setback she was enthusiastic. Just knowing that help was in the pipeline meant the world of a difference to her.

“Today I have been rescued,” Epps said excitedly. “And now with my new insurance plan my girls will have coverage too until they are 26 year old. Me and my girls have been rescued.”

The online Insurance Marketplace offers several different levels of coverage from which to choose. The services covered and the corresponding premium costs vary, allowing people to select the type of care and the affordability appropriate to each family. These options can be viewed and compared online, or with a trained insurance plan specialist. There are out of pocket limits based on income.

Enrollment for ACA is from Oct. 1 through Mar. 31, 2014. In order for the plan to be active by Jan. 1, 2014, the person must apply by Dec. 15. Those who do not make the Dec. 15 deadline will have the start of their coverage delayed. Next year, those without health insurance will be charged a penalty on their income taxes if they have not enrolled by the Mar. 31 deadline.

Enrollment assistance will continue to be available at all nine of the CHI locations as well as additional satellite sites throughout the Keys, South Dade and Miami. Anyone can make an appointment with an outreach and enrollment assistant by calling CHI at 786-272-2100.

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