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Text provided by staff writers of The Palm Beach Post

What do I have to do?

Beginning Jan. 1, everyone will have to have health insurance. Policies must include what the government considers minimum essential benefits. People without health insurance, with some exceptions, must pay a penalty when they file their tax return in 2015.

The basics on getting insured in the new marketplaces

Where to go: Choose your state from the list at Healthcare.gov to apply for coverage or compare plans. 

When: Open enrollment starts Oct. 1 and runs through March 31, 2014

What happens:

  1. Fill out an application.
  2. The government gives you options and helps you compare coverage and costs (including deductibles, premiums and out-of-pocket expenses.)
  3. You decide whether to enroll and, if so, pick a plan.
  4. You enroll.

Here’s how the health care law could affect you:

Important information about health plan choices

When you compare marketplace insurance plans, they're put into four categories based on how you and the plan share the costs of care. Click here to find out more.

Am I covered?

You won’t pay a penalty if you meet one of these conditions.


If you’re not insured in 2014, you’ll have to pay a fee on your 2015 federal income tax return. What are the fees?

Who doesn't have to pay the fee?

Uninsured people won't have to pay a fee if they meet one of these conditions.

I have insurance through my employer

You’re covered for 2014 as long as you have minimum essential benefits. Your employer should let you know in re-enrollment papers. Can I shop the marketplace rates anyway?

I'm on Medicare

Medicare benefits have expanded under the health care law. Find out what additional benefits you may receive.

I have a chronic disease

Starting in 2014, being sick won't keep you from getting health coverage. An insurance company can't turn you down or charge you more because of your condition. Are there any exceptions?

How can I tell if I qualify for Medicaid?

Each state has different rules about who qualifies for Medicaid. Click here to find out if you qualify.

I don’t qualify for Medicaid, but I can’t afford health insurance

In 2014, an individual making up to about $45,000, or a family of 4 making up to about $94,000, may qualify for lower costs under the Affordable Care Act. Click here to see if you qualify for a subsidy.

I am a veteran

If you are enrolled in (or are a beneficiary of) any of these programs, you’re considered to have minimum essential coverage under the health care law.

I am responsible for a child without insurance

There are several options available. Click here to see if your child qualifies.

I am an immigrant

To be eligible for health coverage through the marketplace, you must meet these qualifications.

I am an American citizen living abroad

Generally, health insurance coverage in the marketplace covers health care provided by doctors, hospitals, and medical services within the United States. Find out more here.

I own a business with 50 or fewer employees

If you offer insurance coverage now, you can keep your plan. You also can offer a plan through the Small Business Health Options Program, which could qualify you for tax credits. Find out more.

I am self employed

If you have no employees, you can shop for insurance at healthcare.gov starting Oct. 1 and possibly qualify for lower costs. Find out more.

Sources: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Kaiser Family Foundation, Palm Beach County Health Care District, Florida Department of Children and Families, Palm Beach Post staff research

The Latest News Headlines

  • JEA is looking at expanding its solar footprint by more than 600%. The Board took a series of actions Tuesday to change the utility’s Energy Mix Policy, and specifically boost solar in the future. They first agreed to alter a 2010 resolution that required up to 30% of JEA’s energy to be supplied by nuclear energy generation by 2030. Instead, they’re now adding some flexibility by committing that 30% target can be achieved through carbon-free and carbon-neutral means, which will also incorporate solar, biomass, landfill gas, wind, or other clean sources. Looking specifically at solar, the JEA Board has authorized the Managing Director to negotiate to buy two parcels of land, which will be used for new solar developments. These two parcels will go along with two others already in JEA’s property portfolio, with each of the four expected to host at least 50 MW. Construction is expected to be completed by the end of 2020. JEA will own the propert, but lease it to solar companies and then buy power. In expanding their solar portfolio, JEA noted universal solar allows them to lock in the current rate for a portion of their generation requirements. JEA says the current rate is low and competitive, and on par with JEA’s fuel rate. The utility believes that expanding their solar generation will not only promote their new Energy Mix Policy, but will also help lower the cost of the JEA SolarSmart offering. In all, they say this will mean benefits for customers and the environment. This solar expansion comes on the heels of the Trump Administration reversing course on rules from the prior Administration that were designed to cut back on carbon emissions. Regardless of that reversal, JEA has continued to move forward on cleaner energy. In partnership with FPL, they’re also closing the St. Johns River Power Park in the coming months. JEA also says their newest solar farm just came online Friday.
  • JEA’s Downtown campus needs an estimated $37 million in work to overhaul several major systems- from plumbing to fire protection and more. After lengthy study of the options available, building a new campus has emerged as the leading recommendation for the most cost effective option for JEA’s future. The JEA Board will vote on the first major step in that process Tuesday- a land swap agreement with the City of Jacksonville. The vote would specifically give JEA’s CEO authority to execute the land swap, under the terms and conditions that have been set forward.  Renovating the current building and rebuilding in the current location were also considered, in addition to various sites on which to construct a new campus. Building a new campus on an Adams Street parcel currently owned by the City was deemed the best option when considering the disruption of daily operations, facility needs of JEA, location, and cost.  The City Council and Downtown Investment Authority still need to approve the agreement as well.  JEA’s Downtown campus  The Tower and Customer Center were constructed in 1962 and purchased by JEA in 1989 for $8 million, according to information filed with the JEA Board. Since then, JEA says there has been minimal capital investment.  JEA says their plumbing, electrical, fire protection, security, and structural systems are all due for replacement. The space is also larger than their current needs, according to the JEA documentation.   Maintaining current operations without substantial systems replacement was ruled out as an option through the study, and renovations would require multiple employee relocations. JEA further says the current floor plan is inefficient, and the existing parking beneath the building is a security risk. Further, the costs of moving and maintaining operations through the renovation is estimated at more than $23 million, according to the study prepared for presentation put forward in September 2016.  The land swap  JEA, the City of Jacksonville, and the Downtown Investment Authority have executed a term sheet for a land swap. JEA would vacate its current Downtown campus on Church Street- which includes the Tower and Customer Service Center- and the property would be transferred to the City. In exchange, JEA would receive a parcel east of the Duval County Courthouse, on Adams Street. JEA would build its new campus on that site.   The Adams Street parcel currently owned by the City is 1.52 acres with a land value of $1,655,275. The parcel is currently used for parking and construction trailer storage. JEA’s current Church Street parcel is 1.84 acres with a land value of $1,632,760. The land value for the JEA site does not include the buildings on the property.  If there is environmental remediation needed on the new parcel, the City and JEA will split the cost. If this cost is excessive, JEA can choose to terminate the deal.  While this is a land swap, JEA is committing to marketing to try to sell the existing Downtown campus parcel starting 180 days after they get the parcel for the new site and continuing through 180 days after JEA vacates their current site. At the time of the sale of the JEA parcel, City compensation will be based off the value of the City parcel, which will be valued either at the current assessment in the terms sheet or the 2019 market value- whichever is greater at the time.  If the Church Street campus is sold at a value higher than what the City parcel on Adams Street is worth, JEA and the City will split the net profit. If the sale is below the assessed value of the City parcel, JEA will be responsible for paying the difference.  If JEA is unable to sell its existing Church St. site, the term sheet says JEA will pay to demolish the buildings and return the parcel to street level grade. The City would take ownership of the parcel within 30 days of the completion of that work.  The new campus building or buildings- which don’t have a price tag in the land swap term sheet- will include a customer care facility, office space for roughly 750 employees, sufficient parking, and an emergency operations center. The City also agrees, under the terms sheet, to look at potentially expanding the parking garage that will be built on the new campus to also use for City employee parking.  Construction would be completed around the end of 2020, according to documentation going before the JEA Board.
  • It's another good reason to stay out of any floodwater you may see in your neighborhood.   Due to the heavy rainfall this week, JEA is reporting 3 separate sewage overflows (SSO).   At this time, the estimated gallons spilled has not been released, but the overflows occurred at the following locations: 6600 & 6628 Van Gundy Road, 2515 Lantana Avenue, and West 22nd Street & Wilson, West 25th Street & Marlo, and 1999 West 30th Street.   JEA spokesperson Gerri Boyce explains the problem.   'To put it in perspective, just at one of our wastewater treatment plants, we normally have a flow of 6 million gallons of sewage and yesterday we had 18 million gallons,' says Boyce.   But she tells us the storms are prompting change.   Boyce says, 'We have expanded our planned inflow and infiltration assessment into additional areas of the collection system, in an effort to harden it against extreme weather events.'   JEA has more than 4,000 miles of sewer pipe, making them one of the largest wastewater systems in the country, and the second largest in Florida.   'We have already invested more than $3 billion since we assumed ownership [of the wastewater system] and we plan on investing an additional $1 billion over the next five years,' says Boyce.   Overall, JEA says SSOs have declined over the last decade, even as their system nearly doubled.   If you want to see if there are spills near you, you can find that information on the JEA website.
  • At the federal level, the Trump Administration is calling it an end to the “war on coal”. For your budget, it doesn’t look like it will make a big difference, at least in the near future. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt announced Monday that he will issue a new set of rules Tuesday to reverse course on the “Clean Power Plan”- which was put forward under former President Obama to cut US carbon dioxide emissions. WOKV reached out to local utilities to see what the change means for them- and ultimately you. Florida Power & Light Spokesman Stephen Heiman tells WOKV they have been in compliance with the intended guidelines of CPP since 2015. He says the change at the federal level will not change anything they have already put in place. JEA says any plans relating to CPP were essentially on hold already, because the Supreme Court had blocked enforcement, so they were waiting for more information.  “We have been, and continue to, follow industry/market economics and cost factors. If, and/or when, we get new regulations, we will work them into the plan and make sure we are in compliance,” says a statement from JEA Spokeswoman Gerri Boyce. JEA and FPL are in the process of decommissioning the St. Johns River Power Park. During a previous interview with WOKV, JEA said federal environmental regulations were one of the factors considered in their decision. Federal regulations have also been a guiding force influencing Clay Electric customers. Clay Electric is a “distribution electric cooperative”, meaning they purchase wholesale power to distribute as opposed to generating it themselves- so the federal regulations didn’t have any direct impact on what they do. In light of that, WOKV went to Seminole Electric Cooperative, which generates and transmits electric to Clay Electric and others. “Our plan is a balanced approach that will let us generate power more competitively with natural gas, while managing the risk and unpredictability of future policy changes related to carbon emissions associated with coal,” says Seminole Electric Manager of Communications and Energy Policy Ryan Hart. Hart says, for the last few years, Seminole has been focused on long term planning. While the uncertainty around federal regulations was a part of that conversation, he says the plan they put together was not a direct result of CPP. Despite that, the long term plan does include removing one of two coal-fired generating units at the Seminole Generating Station in about five years. At that site in Putnam County, they will be building a new gas-fired generating plant. “That was going to happen regardless of what happened with the Clean Power Plan,” he says. Seminole is also looking at other purchased power agreements and new solar resources. “Our focus ultiamtely though our process had been to find the most cost effective resource managed solution,” Hart says. Overall, he says the plan they put together lets them manage risk and uncertainty, to give the best return for you.
  • Northeast Florida’s two freshman congressmen are teaming up to sponsor a bill to help local veterans find a path after the military. U.S. Rep. John Rutherford (R-Fla.) and U.S. Rep. Al Lawson (D-Fla.) are working together on the Veterans Armed for Success Act that if approved would create a $5 million federal grant match for organizations helping veterans transition into the civilian work force. Former Marine Juan Guerrero was confident his military skill set would land him a job in the civilian world but that wasn’t the case. “Then you start to doubt yourself and you wonder why you got out,” Guerrero said. The same thing happened to Robert McGregor, who served for more than 26 years. “I sent out hundreds if not thousands of job applications, did not get one interview,” McGregor said. But Rutherford said that shouldn’t happen. “The Veterans Armed for Success Act will create a federal matching program to encourage more organizations like Operation New Uniform to set up our veterans for success,” Rutherford said. Guerrero and McGregor credit Operation New Uniform for helping them find meaningful careers. “They taught me the networking skills, the resume-writing skills, the interviewing skills,” McGregor said. Rutherford said under the bill, communities have to pull together to apply for the money. The hope is to replicate the program across the country, putting more highly skilled veterans to work. “And we won’t have unemployed veterans,” Guerrero said. The bill will be heard in the Veterans Affairs Committee before eventually heading to the House for a vote and then the Senate.  Rutherford expects to have bipartisan support.

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