Get health coverage – take advantage of ACA open enrollment

By Al Lawson, Jr.
Special to the Outlook

There is understandably some confusion about where things stand with the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare.
Despite what you may have heard about what has been happening in Washington, the Affordable Care Act remains the law of the land, and now through Dec. 15 millions of Americans have the opportunity to gain affordable, quality insurance through the Health Insurance Marketplace created by the Affordable Care Act.  Last year, eight in 10 people who purchased insurance through healthcare.gov qualified for financial help with their premiums.  For most people, that meant that they could find premiums between $50 and $100 per month.

 
The open enrollment period allows individuals to either purchase new or modify your existing health plan under the Affordable Care Act. To determine what other plans are available, you can also shop around and see if other plans offer more savings than your current plan does.  Insurance prices can change, so it pays to shop around.

 
This year open enrollment is half as long as last year, so I urge Floridians to move quickly to take advantage of this great opportunity by purchasing through the federal marketplace, through a broker or directly from an insurer.

 
Since Florida is not one of the states with its own marketplace/health exchange, Floridians can enroll via www.healthcare.gov.  By signing up through healthcare.gov you may qualify for a tax subsidy to lower your costs.  All Americans, by law, are required to have health insurance.

 
Regardless of where you live or what carrier you choose, your plan should cover various preventative care services with no out-of-pocket fee.  These services include everything from cancer screenings to children’s autism screenings to vaccines to free breast pumps for pregnant women.

 
Since the Affordable Care Act was enacted, millions of Floridians have gained access to quality, affordable healthcare.  The Affordable Care Act has allowed young people to stay on their parents’ insurance plans, significantly lower the number of uninsured Floridians, prevented people with pre-existing conditions from facing discrimination from insurance companies, and seniors to save millions of dollars on prescription drugs.

 
Since the passage of the Affordable Care Act, all health insurance plans (on-exchange, off-exchange and employer-provided plans) must cover preventative services at no cost, even if you haven’t reached your deductible.

 
Beyond basic health coverage, various ACA plans can include perks such as flexible spending accounts, health savings accounts, and possibly even a dependent care flexible spending account — meaning you can pay for your kids’ daycare with pre-tax dollars. You may also qualify for a tax credit.

 
Every citizen deserves quality, affordable health insurance coverage to help live healthy and productive lives. Access to health care is critical to the freedom, dignity and well-being of our citizens; and it also contributes to a productive workforce and a thriving economy.

 
I will continue to push for action in Congress to make sure that all Floridians have access to quality, affordable healthcare.   I will keep fighting to ensure that no Floridian is denied the tools to pursue a safe, happy and healthy future.
Rep. Al Lawson represents Florida’s 5th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives.