For the last decade, Affordable Care Act enrollments have been rising across the country, and Florida continues to lead the nation in sign-ups. Last year, a record-breaking 2,723,094 Floridians enrolled in an ACA marketplace plan, an increase of 28%.
It’s only 10 days until the end of 2023 enrollment, and more than 1.44 million more Floridians have already signed up under the exchange, many getting coverage for the first time. As we prepare for the end of the open enrollment period, it’s important for individuals, families and families with children to consider signing up for health care coverage before the Jan. 15 deadline.
As an incoming member of the Children, Families, & Seniors Subcommittee in the Florida House, I know how important it is for folks to get affordable coverage under the ACA. With ACA coverage, folks can get the medical care they need, including preventive services, immunizations and treatment for illnesses or injuries. This can help ensure that everyone stays healthy and avoids more serious health issues down the road.
In addition to protecting your and the health of your loved ones, ACA coverage can provide financial protection for families. Medical bills can be expensive, and without health care coverage, families may be responsible for paying for all of their medical expenses out of pocket. This can be a financial burden, especially if a family member has a serious illness or injury. ACA coverage can help cover these medical expenses, helping to protect families from financial ruin and preventing minor health issues from becoming more serious and costly to treat.
I know all too well having a loved one with a serious health condition. As many people know, my wife underwent a significant open heart surgery this past year. Without health care coverage, her bill for the hospital stay alone was half a million dollars. While I am grateful we have great health care, my mind could not help but go to those who are uninsured and underinsured.
Despite incredible strides toward getting people covered, Florida still has the fourth-highest uninsured rate behind Texas, Oklahoma and Georgia. U.S. Census data released last year estimates that 12.1% of Floridians still are not covered. Florida has a real opportunity to expand Medicare and Medicaid services, around the ACA. Yet, Republican leadership would rather die on a partisan hill than protect millions of Floridians.
There has never been a better time to sign up for coverage that meets your needs and budget even if your income is tight. This year the Affordable Care Act was strengthened through the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, which reduced health care premiums for 13 million families purchasing coverage on the ACA marketplaces. Right now, 2,620,652, or 96 percent with an ACA plan, are receiving enhanced premium tax credits, making their coverage more affordable and accessible. On average, families will now continue to save thousands of dollars a year on health care, giving them the much-needed breathing room to pay for other essentials like rent, groceries, and gas.
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These savings are a game-changer for Floridians — saving an average middle-class family of four in Florida $7,295 on their yearly premiums. Between saving seniors thousands of dollars on their prescription drugs and lowering monthly premium costs for working families, the IRA is helping millions afford life-saving treatments and reducing harmful inequities in health care.
Finally, getting coverage can provide peace of mind for families. Having health care coverage means you can get the medical care you need when you need it, without worrying about the cost. This can help you stay healthy and prevent minor health issues from becoming more serious and costly to treat. Knowing that you and your family have access to quality healthcare can allow you to focus on other aspects of your life and reduce stress.
Remember, open enrollment for the ACA in Florida is ending on Jan. 15. If you or a loved one are currently uninsured or looking to change your health care plan, now is the time to get covered. You can visit HealthCare.gov for more information and assistance with enrolling.
Michele Rayner-Goolsby, who represents District 62 in the Florida State House, is a civil rights attorney and social justice advocate. Born and raised in Pinellas County, she and her wife, Bianca, live in St. Petersburg.