Health Insurance Deadlines Fast Approaching
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires everyone have health insurance that meets their basic health care needs—this is known as minimum essential coverage. Those who carry less than the minimum required coverage, such as insurance only for vision or dental, workers’ compensation or plans that only offer discounts on medical services, will be subject to a penalty on their 2016 federal income tax return of 2.5% of his or her income, or $625/adult and $347.50/child, whichever amount is higher. Understanding the ACA requirements and ensuring the proper amount of coverage can be difficult, but there are local resources, including the navigators affiliated with the Health Planning Council of Southwest Florida.
The Lee Community Healthcare offices in Dunbar, North Fort Myers and Cape Coral have navigators from the United Way of Lee, Hendry, Glades, Okeechobee screen all uninsured patients and provide application and enrollment assistance for Medicaid and the Federal Health Insurance Marketplace, also known as www.healthcare.gov. Or, you can visit www.EnrollSWFL.com to find other locations throughout our community to schedule an appointment online with a certified navigator or call 1-866-547-2793 with questions.
For those individuals who are admitted to our Lee Memorial Health System hospitals or are patients in our outpatient facilities, we have on-site financial counselors who help determine whether they qualify for Medicaid and assist with applications.
Open enrollment started on Nov. 1 and the deadline for Jan. 1 coverage is Dec. 15. The next deadline is Jan. 15 for coverage to start Feb. 1. Open enrollment officially ends on Jan. 31, and any enrollments or changes completed between Jan. 16 and Jan. 31 take effect on March 1. This is important information that we should all be aware of as we serve others. Florida consistently has more uninsured residents than most other states in the nation—in fact, we often rank second or third for the highest number of uninsured residents. And, Southwest Florida is consistently the second highest region for uninsured residents in Florida.
Through collaboration and education, last year nearly 42,000 Lee County residents enrolled in the Federal Insurance Marketplace, and they have the opportunity to re-enroll again this year. Even with outreach and support efforts, we continue to have thousands of uninsured residents who are unaware of the financial assistance for which they may qualify. If there are people you know who need help understanding their health insurance obligations and options, let them know free assistance is available locally and in person. Lee Memorial Health System and other key community partners are here to help our families, friends and neighbors get the coverage they need, while avoiding penalties. We do this because we are caring people, caring for people.
President, Lee Memorial Health System
We are Lee Memorial Health System: Caring People, Caring For People.
Affordable Care & You