Jacksonville, FL - It’s another change to the federal healthcare law that’s getting mixed reviews from local facilitators.
The official deadline to enroll in a healthcare exchange to receive coverage on January 1st- meaning you will not have any lapse in coverage when transitioning plans- remained as Monday night. Because of potential technological problems, the volume of last minute requests, and the challenge of executing the deadline in so many different time zones, however, we’ve learned applications for coverage will still be accepted through Tuesday at midnight.
“I think this is the busiest that we have been since that initial open,” says Health Planning Council of Northeast Florida Senior VP of Operations Nikole Healvy.
Healvy oversees many of the local Navigators, specifically those funded through a grant given to the University of South Florida. She says many of the Northeast Florida navigators have told her they have back-to-back appointments as people scramble to get coverage.
But for other navigators, this hasn’t been a last minute surge as much as a steady trickle.
“I think most people that were anticipating having coverage by January 1st have already chosen their plan,” says Heather Hernandez, who is a Navigator that works with the Epilepsy Foundation of Northeast Florida.
She has been helping an average of one or two people a day since the federal healthcare website re-launched about one month ago. Since that time, appointments have gone from around four hours to just 30 minutes, and Hernandez says everyone is walking away with what they needed. She was busiest around that re-launch because they had started telling consumers to hold off until then, given the consistent problems.
The website problems are part of why Healvy says they’re so busy now.
“Our biggest efforts in the last few weeks have been to try to reach back out to some of those consumers who may have tried early on and gotten frustrated with the process,” Healvy says.
With a lot of the kinks getting hammered out now, Hernandez says she’s looking forward to 2014.
“We’ll definitely be more prepared and better to hit the road,” she says.
While you must enroll by midnight Tuesday in order to be covered on January 1st, enrollment remains open through March. If you are not covered by March 31st, you face financial penalties under the Affordable Care Act.