Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Why Florida Is No. 1 In Obamacare Enrollment


By Phil Galewitz

When Florida workers promoting President Barack Obama’s health law marketplace want instant feedback, they go to an online “heat map.” The map turns darker green where they’ve seen the most people and shows bright red dots for areas where enrollment is high.

“The map shows us where the holes are” and what communities need to be targeted next, said Lynn Thorp, regional director of the Health Planning Council of Southwest Florida. She hands out information about the health law’s marketplace at rodeos, farmers markets, hockey games and almost any place where people gather.

That mapping strategy is one reason why a Republican-controlled state like Florida, whose leaders criticize the health law at every turn, is leading the nation in signing people up for private Obamacare health plans. With two weeks to go until the deadline for 2015 enrollment, Florida’s tally exceeds that of even Democrat-led California, which has embraced the law building its own online marketplace and has twice the population and uses three times as much federal funding for outreach.

“It’s surprising Florida has done as well compared to other states, and they will be looked at by folks who want to learn lessons to promote enrollment,” said Joel Ario, managing director for Manatt Health Solutions, a consulting firm, who worked for the administration setting up the exchanges soon after the law was passed.

As of mid-January, 1.27 million Floridians had enrolled in exchange plans, according to federal data, compared to 1.2 million Californians. Texas, which has 6 million more people than Florida, enrolled about 919,000 people in private plans. Both Florida and Texas have a 22 percent uninsured rate. California’s rate is 17 percent, according to latest Census data.

“It is truly ironic that Florida leads the nation in enrollment … with leadership that has actively opposed the law,” said Leah Barber-Heinz, executive director of Florida CHAIN, an advocacy group involved in outreach efforts. “It shows true commitment on the part of many and it portrays an extremely high need for affordable coverage.

source : Why Florida Is No. 1 In Obamacare Enrollment

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