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Health News Florida
Healthy State tells the stories you need to know to stay well, with a special focus on Florida.We'll bring you the latest fitness trends, new research on preventing and treating disease, and information about how health policy impacts your pocketbook.We report on health using all the tools at our disposal -- video, audio, photos and text -- to bring these stories to life.Healthy State is a project of WUSF Public Media in Tampa and is heard on public radio stations throughout Florida. It also is available online at wusfnews.org.

Time For a HealthCare.gov Test Drive

Floridians who buy their own insurance can start shopping for 2015 plans on the federal marketplace on Saturday, but a sneak peek of prices is available now.

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Credit HealthCare.gov

-- the website for residents in Florida and 36 other states -- opened for window shoppers over the weekend. In Florida, 10 different companies offer plans.

This marketplace is available for Floridians who have no other access to health insurance, such as through an employer or with a government program like Medicare, which is available to seniors. It's also the only place where residents earning between 100 and 400 percent of the federal poverty level can receive subsidies on monthly premiums.

Plans can be selected between Nov. 15 and Feb. 15, 2015.

Earlier this year, the state Office and Insurance Regulation and the Department of Health and Human Services clashed over how much rates were going up or down. Consumers now can find out on their own, by entering a zip code and basic personal information such as income and age.

For example, a 40-year-old non-smoking resident earning $35,000 a year would earn a $21 a month subsidy to help cover their monthly premium. Depending on where the person lives, he or she could choose from the following:

·         Fort Lauderdale:94 different plans from nine companies, with premiums ranging from $185 to $637 a month.

·         Panama City: 39 different plans from four companies, with premiums ranging from $226 to $468 a month.

·         Orlando:53 different plans from six companies, with premiums ranging from $224 to $527 a month.

·         Sarasota: 53 different plans from six companies, with premiums ranging from $208 to $525 a month.

Last year, HealthCare.gov was criticized most for major website glitches, and the government’s failure to complete security testing. Officials say it has gotten cyber security upgrades ahead of Saturday’s start for the second open enrollment season under President Barack Obama's health care law.

Andy Slavitt oversees the complex technology. Slavitt says the facility that hosts HealthCare.gov is now certified to meet rigorous government standards for cloud computing. Cloud operations use large networks of machines in different locations to handle data.

HealthCare.gov is also conducting daily security scans and weekly so-called "white-hat" hacking attempts that simulate real attacks. The Homeland Security department is also helping to bolster HealthCare.gov's detection and defense capabilities.

--Stay tuned to Health News Florida throughout the open enrollment period. Our team will be breaking down the changes to plans in 2015, and other issues affecting Floridians eligible to buy plans on the exchange.

Copyright 2014 WUSF Public Media - WUSF 89.7