This is part of a compensated campaign with The Navigator Project of SW and GC Florida. However, all opinions expressed are my own.
Having 3 kids, one with special needs, an accident prone husband, and well of course me being me, having health insurance is a MUST for our family.
However, there was a time when we didn't have any health insurance. It was back in 2005-2006. We were a single income family, and despite giving birth TWICE in that time period, it was more economically feasible for us to pay for our medical bills then it was for us to pay monthly insurance premiums. We made too much money to qualify for any state assistance, yet we were still living paycheck to paycheck. The life of a working middle class family.
Beginning October 1st, Obamacare will come in to play. Obamacare sounds confusing and hard to understand. Basically, the main idea of the project is to have everyone in the United Stated covered by health insurance by March, 2014. If you don't you'll have to pay a fine. I am learning more and more about Obamacare and what it means for all of us.
The Health Insurance Marketplace is a website where everyone can go and apply if they don't have an insurance plan, or if they feel that they are currently paying to much.
But there is a LOCAL resource for those of us that live in the Southwest and Central Gulf regions of Florida called the “Navigator Project for Southwest and Gulf Central Florida”
The Navigator project is funded through the University of South Florida Consortia to assist in the education and enrollment process in the 10 county regions. The ten counties in the region include Collier, Lee, Charlotte, Hendry, Glades, DeSoto, Sarasota, Manatee, Highlands, and Hardee. Within these counties we are partnering with local community and social service agencies to train Navigators. We chose to work with agencies that are already assisting individuals in their community with connecting with social and health care services as they know best who needs the help, how to reach them and the local support services are available. Many of the organizations trained an existing staff member to perform the Navigator function as it complements their current role within their agency. In this ten county region there will be a total of 18 Navigators, 15 of these Navigators will be half time and three will be full time roaming Navigators.
How can individuals enroll in the Marketplace on October 1st? Everyone with internet access should be encouraged to go on-line to healthcare.gov and explore the website, the assistance for which they may be eligible, and the insurance products that will be available. An individual then has many options when it comes to applying -
1) apply on-line with no assistance as it will be a user friendly website with toll free support at the national level.
2) Contact their local insurance agent or broker for in person assistance
3) Contact our local toll free number for in person assistance
At the regional level we have been developing a network of in-person assisters to include both Navigators and Certified Application Counselors. We will have a toll free line and referral network where people can call to be referred by zip code to an individual or organization to them in education about the marketplace products and help with the enrollment process. This referral network will include the Navigator partners in addition to federally qualified health center assisters such as Family Healthcare Network Southwest Florida, Family Health Centers of SWFL and the Community Health Center of North Port. Additional the Lee and Collier County library systems are assisting with meeting rooms for Navigators and displaying enrollment posters and flyers.
Starting on October 1st from 8am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, our local toll free number for Southwest and Gulf Central Florida is 1-866-547-2793 (only for Southwest and Gulf Central Florida). The nationwide toll free number is 1-800-318-2596 and you can call them to find providers in your area!
Counties included in Southwest and Gulf Central Florida include:
Collier, Lee, Charlotte, Hendry, Glades, DeSoto, Sarasota, Manatee, Highlands, and Hardee
You can also follow our local updates online via Facebook or Twitter.
On Monday September 30, I will be joining 9 other influential bloggers on Twitter for a chat about this program. You can join us beginning at 6pm by following the hashtag #healthcareSWGCFL
Has there ever been a time in your life when you were without health insurance?