Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Florida drives surge in Obamacare enrollment

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell said Wednesday that more people had enrolled in an Affordable Care Act plan than had at this time last year. [Associated Press]

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell said Wednesday that more people had enrolled in an Affordable Care Act plan than had at this time last year. [Associated Press]

Despite the Affordable Care Act's uncertain fate, nearly 1.3 million Floridians have enrolled in coverage for 2017, up from about 1.1 million at this time last year for 2016 coverage, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell said Wednesday.

Burwell said the 14 percent increase in Florida is due partly to a push by the state's navigators, who offer free, unbiased assistance to consumers.

Melanie Hall, who oversees a navigator program called Covering Tampa Bay, said her team was busier in November than any other month since Obamacare became law.

"We had several folks work 14 days straight in order to meet the demand," she said.

The total so far for Florida includes more than 214,000 people from the Tampa Bay area. Other large markets in Florida for enrollment are Miami-Fort Lauderdale and Orlando.

The rise in Florida is in keeping with a national trend. Nationwide, 6.4 million people have signed up for coverage for 2017, an increase of nearly 7 percent from this time last year.

Burwell said the figures prove "that doomsday predictions about the marketplace were wrong" — and that people both want and need coverage.

"The marketplace is strong," she said.

The numbers will likely rise. While the deadline to buy coverage starting New Year's Day has passed, consumers have until Jan. 31 to select a plan for 2017.

Burwell said the federal health department is planning a "hard push" for the final six weeks of the open enrollment period.

She conceded the presence of "headwinds" — namely a promise from Republican lawmakers and President-elect Donald Trump to repeal the health law. But she stressed the Affordable Care Act is still "the law of the land" and each plan is a contract for 2017, regardless of what happens in Congress. "The best thing folks can do right now is to shop and get covered," she said.

Earlier in the day, a report from the nonpartisan Commonwealth Fund found the share of uninsured adults in Florida had dropped 9 percentage points since the ACA marketplace was enacted in 2013. The report also noted a 5 percentage point dip in the share of uninsured kids.

Still, the study characterized Florida's uninsured rate as among the nation's highest. Last year, one in five adults was uninsured, the report found. About one in 14 children lacked coverage.

Contact Kathleen McGrory at kmcgrory@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8330. Follow @kmcgrory.

Florida drives surge in Obamacare enrollment 12/21/16 [Last modified: Wednesday, December 21, 2016 7:33pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Sue Carlton: Job or family when a hurricane's coming — a very Florida conundrum

    Hurricanes

    It must seem as foreign to Northerners as shoveling snow is to those of us raised in the Sunshine State: The very-Florida conundrum of having to choose between work and family — between paycheck and personal safety — when a hurricane comes.

    A hurricane helps the rest of us acknowledge the police officers, paramedics, hospital personnel, public works employees and others who stay on the job despite the storm. 
  2. After Tampa concert, Arcade Fire members party, preach politics at Crowbar

    Blogs

    After waiting more than a decade for Arcade Fire’s first appearance in Tampa, fans didn’t have to wait long for their second.

    DJ Windows 98, a.k.a. singer Win Butler of Arcade Fire, performed at a "Disco Town Hall" at Crowbar following the band's concert at the USF Sun Dome on Sept. 22, 2017.
  3. Review: Arcade Fire open hearts, play with passion at the USF Sun Dome in Tampa

    Blogs

    Gloves off, hearts open and disco balls glittering, Arcade Fire scaled the stage for the first time ever in Tampa, pouncing and flailing and performing with all the passion that’s made them one of the world’s most celebrated rock bands this century.

    Arcade Fire performed at the USF Sun Dome in Tampa on Sept. 22, 2017.
  4. Lightning's Steven Stamkos looks close to top form in first game since November

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — The wait felt like forever for Lightning captain Steven Stamkos, having gone 10 months without playing in a game.

    A scramble in front of the Lightning goal has Matthew Peca, far left, and Erik Cernak, middle, helping out goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy during the third period of a 3-1 win against the Predators. Vasilevskiy, who made 29 saves, was “exceptional,” coach Jon Cooper says.
  5. Rays journal: Alex Cobb may have pitched last game in Rays uniform (w/video)

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — RHP Alex Cobb pitched well enough to lead the Rays to an 8-3 win over the Orioles on Friday.

    Wilson Ramos gives thanks after hitting a grand slam during the second inning, putting the Rays up 4-0.