One in four Floridians without health insurance | News

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One in four Floridians without health insurance

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- In Duval County 145,000 people have no health insurance, Karen Hanna is one of them.

"I tried to blame my situation on the government or the place I retired from," said Hanna.

Hanna, a retired teacher, said even with a part time job, the cost of insurance is too much.

"When you're only getting one thousand dollars and 800 goes to insurance," she said. "I'm just living for Medicare."

Hanna, 63, is among the working and uninsured and turned to Volunteer in Medicine, a non profit, for her health care needs.

"If they weren't here I would be devastated," she said.

As long as you are working and meet VIM's income guidelines, the service is free. Mike Weinstein is CEO of Volunteer in Medicine.

"We see about 500 patients a month, 6000 a year," said Weinstein. "It has been like that for ten years." 

He said Florida's uninsured crisis, mostly those under 65, is a result of the type of jobs.

"Florida is really big in hospitality, we're big in tourism and the tend to be the lower salaried positions without benefits," Weinstein said. 

Even with the Affordable Health Care Act, aka Obamacare, Weinstein believes the number of uninsured will increase.

"A lot of people that are healthy won't opt for insurance they will take the $95 penalty instead," said Weinstein. "And they will look for the free care and the emergency rooms."

Nearly four million Floridian are now uninsured, about 25 percent of the population according to Census Bureau data. House Democratic Leader Perry Thurston called it shameful.

"I'm hoping there's an uproar that says to the leadership, this is a no-brainer and how can we have been so callous to not accept these funds already and let's do the right thing and do what's right by the people of the state of Florida," said Thurston.

Hanna knows what it is like to be uninsured and would like to see the governor and legislature address the problem.

"It is a shame, we should be ashamed of ourselves for not taking care of our own people," said Hanna.

Starting October 1,2013  open enrollment in the insurance marketplace begins, as required by Obamacare, coverage will start as soon as January 1, 2014.


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