Experts aim to take headaches out of health care enrollment

Groups hosting sign-up event Saturday at Regency Square Mall in Jacksonville

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Open enrollment for plans from the Affordable Care Act starts Saturday. Americans will have three months to sign up to be covered in 2015.

A number of groups are trying to make signing up easier and less confusing for those in Jacksonville. They're holding an enrollment event from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday at the Regency Square Mall at a space inside next to the JCPenney store.

Affordable Care Act experts want to get everyone signed up before it's too late, trying to get all Americans insured.

"It may not be everything; it may not, but it is that extra inch," said Raymond Paultre of Get Covered America. "It is that extra bit of help. That bit is saving and making a difference in the lives of people throughout the state, the nation and right here in Duval county."

Open enrollment for the sophomore year starts Saturday morning, and on Friday, a coalition of organizations cut the ribbon for a large-scale sign-up event at the mall.

The event, which is open to everyone, will include 32 health care experts or navigators, who can answer questions and help people enroll.

"It is great that we are trying to help as many people as possible," said state Rep. Reggie Fullwood.

The Jacksonville Children's Commission will also have people helping out, so families can get their children insurance plans.

"Most families pay with Florida KidCare $15-$20 a month per child," said Cheryl Townsend of Jacksonville Children's Commission.

"Families can get their loves ones covered, so that they don't end up in emergency rooms, which is critical," said state Sen. Audrey Gibson.

There will be plenty of other opportunities to sign up during the enrollment period, which lasts until February. While it had problems last year, HealthCare.gov will be up and running again. It's not the only option, but advocates said it can be one of the most affordable.

"Financial assistance will be available to help make coverage affordable for families," Paultre said. "Last year, 91 percent of Floridians who signed up for coverage in the marketplace received some help."

Saturday's sign-up event will have computers and Internet connections for people who don't have access at home.

You can also sign up for coverage at EnrollAmerica.org

JMA Insurance Professionals is also hosting nine sign-up locations around the Jacksonville area in partnership with Family Care Partners, Family Medical Centers and the Clay County Centers on Aging.

Those will be from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday at the following locations:

  • Family Care Partners Intracoastal on Beach Boulevard
  • FCP Northside on Dunn Avenue
  • FCP Arlington on Ft. Caroline Road
  • FCP Oceanway on North Main Street
  • Family Medical Center Normandy on Normandy Boulevard
  • Clayton & Mildred Revels Senior Center on Walnut Street in Green Cove Springs
  • Orange Park Senior Center on Stowe Avenue in Orange Park
  • Weigel Senior Center on Walnut Street in Green Cove Springs
  • William M. Beam Senior Center on Commercial Circle in Keystone Heights