Sign up for health insurance at Tampa rec centers

Bob Buckhorn

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If you don’t have health insurance but you want it to kick in on January First, you have less than two weeks to sign up during Affordable Care Act open enrollment. Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn says the City of Tampa is making it easier to sign up by making navigators available on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons at five parks & rec centers.

“Well, because there’s a need. And because the more of our citizens that we get covered and have health care options, the better we are as a community. The better their quality of life is, the better the greater community’s quality of life is. And so we stepped out early on when the President first announced and asked for our help. We’ve been doing this for three years now. We’re going to continue to do it. We registered 77,000 people in Hillsborough County last year. A-million-three (1,300,000) in the state of Florida. And so we’re hoping to find those who have not signed up or not had the information available to them.”

So that’s 77,000 people got health insurance that didn’t have it before?

“Yes, 77,000 of our friends and neighbors and family members in Hillsborough County that did not have health care coverage that would have to walk into the emergency room as their primary provider, oftentimes with tragic results. They now have health care insurance. It’s market-driven, they’re paying for it. It’s the right thing to do. And the fact that we can take that burden off of them – the burden that hangs over their head if they don’t have health insurance – that’s a good thing. And I don’t care about the politics of this. This is the right thing to do and it’s the best thing that we can do for the health of our community.”

Where can people go and when is it open?

“You can go to our community parks and recreation facilities. That is available online. There’s about five of them that we’ve opened. The hours, I think you could go online to find out what they are.

“The navigators will be there to help you navigate the process. So we’re trying to make this available to some of the targeted groups that are under-served. So we did it intentionally in neighborhoods where there is a high rate of uninsured folks. And we’re hoping that they’ll avail themselves to come down to our facilities, meet with the navigators. They will help you through the process. They’ll get you signed up. They’ll find the best plan for you. And you will have the burden lifted off your shoulders and off your family’s shoulders.”

And, finally, is this for people who have no insurance or if they had this experience last year where they signed up and they’re not sure whether to switch plans?

“I think it’s both. I think they can look for other policies that are more cost-effective if they need to. But it’s mainly for those who did not register the last time, who for whatever reason chose not to. This is an opportunity for them. I mean the tens of thousands that are still uninsured in Hillsborough County. To come and get signed up. Find a plan that makes sense for you. Find a plan that you can afford. And have health care insurance for you and your family.”

Below is information provided by the City of Tampa:

These centers will be open from 4 to 7 p.m. on Tuesdays & Thursdays each week through the enrollment deadline of January 31, 2016.

Cyrus Green Center
2101 East Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard

Forest Hills Center
724 West 109th Avenue

Hunt Center at Al Lopez Park
4810 North Himes Avenue

Loretta Ingraham Center
1615 North Hubert Avenue

Port Tampa Center
4702 West McCoy Street

PLEASE NOTE: Navigators will not be available December 22 – January 1 due to the holidays.

For more information on how to enroll for healthcare, call (877) 813-9115 or:

According to a news release from Health and Human Services, as of Wednesday, two million people have signed up for the federal marketplace so far this year with nearly 445,000 of those in Florida. HHS also says “80 percent of Florida enrollees can find plans for $75 or less a month in premiums after tax credits. … For 2016, Florida consumers can choose from 10 issuers and an average of 52 plans.” According to the HHS, “Representatives at the 24-hour Call Center are available every day at 1-800-318-2596.” or [email protected]