Getting Covered in the Sunshine State

Posted January 13, 2014
By Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary, Health and Human Services

Greetings from the Sunshine State!

I always love coming to Tampa and to Florida, and the reason really isn’t for the sunshine and oranges (although both are great!), but the people.

Today, I had the pleasure of seeing a courageous young woman that I met last time I was here in Tampa.  Her name is Savannah Goodland. She’s a 24-year-old woman who like so many other young people waited tables to help save for school. Savannah, who now works for a nonprofit, had moved back home in order to save on some bills. While she was moving, she fell down some stairs and broke her ankle. She couldn’t afford to go to the doctor, so she waited tables on a broken ankle.

Because of the Affordable Care Act, that won’t happen to her again.  Savannah got covered through the new Health Insurance Marketplace – and is paying $144 a month for platinum plan. She told me that she actually found a bronze plan for an incredible 63 cents a month, but she decided on a platinum plan because it came with a $0, yes zero, deductible.

And Savannah’s mom got a silver plan for herself for a dollar and change!

There’s no doubt that health insurance makes a real difference in the lives of people like Savannah and millions of others across the nation. That’s why we’re seeing such a strong and growing demand.

Of those Americans who got covered last month through the federal Marketplace at HealthCare.gov, one in eight were Floridians.

Today I met a great group of people in Tampa and Pinellas Park whose work is helping make this strong response possible. One of those dedicated Navigators in Tampa is Joanna Reid.  She’s graduating with a Master’s in Public Health from the University of South Florida. Joanna told me that she’s excited about helping people get affordable, quality health insurance, because that’s critical if they’re to get as healthy as possible.

Before the Affordable Care Act, we had a broken health care system in this country that allowed 3.5 million Floridians, including more than 467,000 in the Tampa Bay area, to go without insurance.

But because of the new law, it’s a new day for health care for families and individuals in Florida and across the country. Millions of Americans now have real options for affordable coverage.

The folks I talked with today are committed to keeping the momentum going. In fact, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn announced that the city is opening up recreation centers to Navigators to give fellow Floridians one-on-one help in a familiar place close to home.

They’re helping people enroll by Wednesday, January 15, for coverage that begins as early as February 1. But if you want more time to consider your options, you have until March 31 to enroll.

There are also many ways to get covered: online at HealthCare.gov; by phone at 1-800-318-2596/TTY 1-855-889-4325, on paper, and through an agent, broker, or issuer. You can find in-person help with a Navigator like Joanna in your community at localhelp.healthcare.gov.