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Health News Florida

Last Weekend to Enroll on HealthCare.gov

Ahead of the Sunday deadline to sign up for insurance on HealthCare.gov, the latest enrollment numbers show that close to 1.4 million people in Florida have signed up. That's more than any other state that uses the federal marketplace.

"Florida has been a very active state, South Florida particularly,” said Bill Corr, deputy secretary with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “There are a lot of people that are uninsured, and we still have more to go."

As of Feb. 6, 1,393,068 people in Florida enrolled or re-enrolled in a plan. South Florida is leading in enrollment, with 661,917 people who have signed up so far. In the Tampa Bay area, about 187,000 have signed up, and in Central Florida, about 160,000 have enrolled.

According to federal data, 57 percent of consumers in Florida re-enrolled in plan, while 43 percent picked a plan for the first time.

About 93 percent of people who have signed up who are signing up are getting tax credits that bring the monthly premium down to less than $100.

“Our goal is to be sure that every Floridian has access to affordable, quality health insurance, and I think that's what happened,” Corr said.

Open enrollment ends Sunday, Feb. 15. 

The number of people signing up jumped last week, the Health and Human Services Department reported. Nearly 276,000 signed up in the 37 states served by the federal insurance marketplace, compared with about 180,000 the previous week.

Although enrollment centers haven’t seen the same long lines as last year, volunteers from Austin, Texas, to Columbus, Ohio, report a surge this week, not yet captured in official numbers. And the revamped HealthCare.gov website so far has avoided last year’s technology meltdown.

Not everything was rosy:

—Average monthly premiums rose by 8 percent in the federal market states, according to preliminary data the administration released earlier in the week. Obama’s law provides taxpayer-subsidized private insurance for people who don’t have access to coverage on the job.

That 8-percent increase reflects the “list price” before subsidies. After subsidies, the average monthly premium that consumers themselves pay increased $23 over last year.

It’s “the first official indication of how premiums are going up in plans that people are actually enrolled in,” said Larry Levitt of the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation.

—About 200,000 people who could not clear up lingering questions about their immigration and citizenship status will soon lose coverage, officials said Wednesday. That’s on top of more than 100,000 dropped last year for similar reasons.

Coverage is only available to citizens and legal residents, but advocates for immigrants say the process for validating legal status has been riddled with errors.

Higher premiums and immigration debates may be the least of the administration’s worries.

Opponents are taking a case to the Supreme Court next month that challenges the validity of the law’s subsidies in states that have not set up their own insurance markets, which is most of them.

Lottie Watts is a producer/reporter with WUSF in Tampa. WUSF is a partner with Health News Florida, which receives support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

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