@patriciaborns and @dchangmiami The Miami Herald has been searching high and low for individuals who completed enrollment for a subsidized health plan through healthcare.gov, the online marketplace,launched by the federal government on Oct. 1 in 36 states, including Florida.
A keystone of the federal healthcare reform law known as the Affordable Care Act, the marketplace is intended to provide affordable, comprehensive health insurance for the millions of Americans who do not have coverage.
While readers have shared plenty of misses due to technical problems that have plagued the site since its launch, only a smattering of success stories had emerged in news reports.
Insurance companies we called said they had enrolled people in subsidized health plans, but would not give specifics. Federal officials said that Americans have enrolled through the exchange, but have declined to reveal how many. When Politico.com, an online news outlet, reported that Chad Henderson, a 21-year-old Georgia resident, had enrolled successfully, Henderson became a cause célèbre, with national media and even the White House touting his story.
Last week, the Orlando Sentinel reported the story of one man in Florida who succeeded in buying a plan — after starting at 6 a.m. on the day the exchange launched.
Daniel McNaughton, a 22-year-old computer science student at Valencia College in Orlando, told reporters he purchased a Florida Blue plan that will cost him $70 a month after the federal subsidy.
McNaughton's case was as rare as a unicorn sighting until Florida CHAIN, a statewide consumer health advocacy group, pointed the Herald to Vincent Mutia, a 24-year-old political science student at the University of Central Florida.
Mutia tried on day one to enroll on health.care gov but ran into the same website issues that most people using the federally-run marketplace have encountered.
Mutia said he spent two days looking at Silver plans that provide 70 percent of the cost sharing, following the links to the insurance company websites for the plans' details. Because of a preexisting condition, he also made sure the plan included his doctor. He chose a Humana plan and a dental care option that together came to $210.56/month with the tax credit he qualified for.
Enrollment in the exchange lasts until March 31, though people must pick a plan by Dec. 15 to have coverage begin on Jan. 1. Read more.