Jacksonville.com – January 25, 2017

Karen Basha Egozi, CEO, Epilepsy Foundation of Florida, Miami

Many people wonder what the future holds for the Affordable Care Act.

Although President Donald Trump and congressional Republicans have signaled their intent to repeal the landmark health law, the timeline for such action remain unclear in the early days of this administration.

While the future of health coverage is uncertain, here’s what we know:

More than 20 million Americans — including many Floridians across the state — have gained access to health coverage, many for the first time.

The rate of Americans without health insurance is at an all-time low.

And the national rise in health care costs is slowing dramatically, by trillions of dollars.

In Florida, about 90 percent of those covered through the Health Insurance Marketplace receive subsidies that help keep coverage affordable.

No, the Affordable Care Act is not perfect. But coverage is up, uninsured rates are down, costs are stabilizing and health outcomes are improving for millions of consumers.

Since the Affordable Care Act’s first open enrollment period in 2013, the Epilepsy Foundation of Florida has been proud to help many of those consumers find both health coverage and peace of mind.

We’re one of Florida’s largest providers of no-cost, in-person enrollment assistance. Thanks to federal grant funding, our trained, certified navigators help everyone find affordable health coverage.

Our navigators have seen every imaginable situation from those seeking help finding health insurance, from hopeful to heartbreaking.

Just one recent example is a man from Jacksonville. He was diagnosed with thyroid cancer and needed full removal of his thyroid — an expensive, life-saving surgery he couldn’t afford.

Thanks to his Marketplace plan, he had his surgery, sees a specialist and follows a medication regimen. His life was not only improved by his health coverage, it was saved. Our navigators see stories like this every day.

We don’t make public policy at the Epilepsy Foundation of Florida — we simply follow it.

That includes reminding Floridians that the deadline to enroll in the Health Insurance Marketplace is Jan. 31. And the easiest way to find a plan and learn if you qualify for subsidies is to get free help from a navigator.

No one knows for sure what changes are coming for the Affordable Care Act.

But that’s no reason not to enroll now before the deadline. After all, the next life to be saved by health coverage could be your own.

For free help in the Jacksonville area enrolling in health coverage before Jan. 31, visit our website (www.efof.org) or call (877-553-7453).

Karen Basha Egozi, CEO, Epilepsy Foundation of Florida, Miami

http://jacksonville.com/opinion/2017-01-25/lead-letter-don-t-lose-out-your-opportunity-apply-health-coverage

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