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Tuesday, July 05, 2022

Resources available all weekend for last-minute health care enrollment

Several locations around Alachua County will be open with resources to help citizens enroll for mandatory health care before enrollment ends Sunday.

The Epilepsy Foundation of Florida will have free counselors at four locations throughout the weekend to lead people through the application process. People who are not enrolled by the Sunday deadline could be fined under the Affordable Care Act.

The foundation’s Gainesville office at 1000 NW Eighth Ave., Suite A, will be open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. today, and from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The organization will be at Tower Road Library from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. today and 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Saturday, it will be at Santa Fe College downtown Gainesville Center for Innovation and Economic Development at 530 W. University Ave. from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and at Millhopper Library from 1 to 5 p.m.

Those applying will need to bring proof of income so counselors can offer the best tax subsidies, which cut the cost of monthly premiums, said Mandy Hancock Anderson, community development manager of the Gainesville office.

Hancock Anderson urged those without health care coverage to apply in order to be insured in case of a medical emergency.

“You never know what might happen,” she said.

Preventative care is instrumental in helping to prevent longer-term chronic illnesses, like asthma, she said.

People who fail to apply for coverage could incur a penalty of $325 or 2 percent of their household income, whichever is greater.

Some Santa Fe students said they think it’s wrong for the government to fine people who don’t apply.

“I don’t think people should be forced to have it,” said Kevin Lynn, a 49-year-old UF sociology graduate student. While he has coverage himself, he said it should be up to the individual to decide whether they want health care coverage.

“There’s a lot of different reasons people might not be covered,” Hancock Anderson said.

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Still, she said, the Affordable Care Act’s tax credits can help make care more affordable for more people.

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