Roughly 30 million Americans still don’t have health insurance.
That means Florence French has her work cut out for her.
French is an organizer with Enroll America, a nonprofit devoted to finding people eligible for for insurance through the Affordable Care Act and showing them where and how to enroll.
That means a lot of one-on-one pitches, wherever there are people: the Department of Motor Vehicles, homes, Home Depot parking lots.
On Sunday, French was at the Valley of Life Ministries, a small Haitian church in a strip center on Broadway near Blue Heron Boulevard. The church’s president, Marie Antoinette Jean Pierre, takes care of and feeds people who walk through the church’s door. Many are homeless.
French’s job lately has been to find people who qualify for a special enrollment period.
The first enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, ended in March. The next enrollment period is in November, but will carry a $95 fine for adults who missed the first enrollment. The penalty escalates to $300 and $700 in subsequent years.
But if someone has a qualifying life event recently — including a marriage or divorce, a move or a new job, a 26th birthday or a new child — they can use the federal exchange right now to buy health insurance without a penalty. They have 60 days from the date of the event to enroll.
Insurance rates through the exchange can be surprisingly inexpensive. Ninety-one percent of Floridians who signed up received a tax credit, bringing the average subsidized plan to $68 per month. More than half of Floridians paid a premium of $50 or less per month.
French, 50, of Boca Raton, says that’s made her pitch an easy one.
“When we knock on someone’s door, they’re grateful,” she said. “There are so many people who have never had health insurance.”
Yves Laplanche, 63, is a volunteer with Enroll America. He estimated he’s helped enroll thousands of people.
“I was a little hesitant at first, thinking, What good could I do?” Laplanche said.
But he said the meetings with people can be emotional.
Enroll America doesn’t sell insurance. It received federal funding to just help people sign up. And afterward, the nonprofit helps them learn how to use their insurance.
On Sunday, one man growled at French that he didn’t want anything to do with Obama or the insurance.
But she did find two people eligible for enrollment. One man just started a new job. The other just lost one.
WANT TO ENROLL?
Anyone with questions about how or where to enroll for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act can contact Florenc French at 561-400-3726 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.