USF ready to train more health insurance navigators

By Chris Hopper, Reporter
Last Updated: Sunday, October 19, 2014, 4:17 PM EDT

Once again, the University of South Florida is stepping up to help people enter the health insurance marketplace.

Signing up people for healthcare under the Affordable Care Act had its share of complications the last time, but it’s time to do it again.

“We want a navigator that consumers are comfortable with,” said Jodi Ray, Project Director of Florida Covering Kids and Families.

USF received a $5.38 million grant to help enroll more eligible Floridians in the health insurance marketplace.

It’s the largest award in Florida and in the country.

The money will be used to train navigators who can help people sign up.

“It’s very involved in terms of how do we provide one-on-one assistance and how do we find folks that really need this information,” said Ray.

Whether it’s the application process, exemptions, tax credits, or explanation of benefits, it can be a complicated process.

The open enrollment period begins November 15 for new users and those people who need to renew their coverage from last year.

“They really want to make sure they’re happy with what they have, and if not, they want to make sure they get information about what plans are available and what the costs are for re-enrolling for the 2015 year.”

The USF College of Public Health will oversee and work with a group of 12 organizations from across the state.

The goal is to once again enroll thousands of Floridians in the health insurance marketplace without any issues.

The enrollment period for new users is from November 15 to February 15.

Existing users will only have until December 15 to re-certify and make changes to their insurance.

Penalties will be significantly higher this year for not signing up.