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Health care enrollment push moves to the pulpit

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Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church Pastor Willie C. Barnes delivers his sermon Nov. 16. Barnes encouraged his congregation to sign up for health insurance.

This weekend marked the beginning of open enrollment season, the time when uninsured Floridians can sign up for health insurance on healthcare.gov.

An estimated 1.5 million Floridians don’t have insurance. At Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church in Eatonville, Renard Murray, the regional administrator for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services came from Atlanta to address the congregation of more than 300.

When asked who knows someone with high blood pressure, asthma or diabetes, almost everyone at Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church raised a hand.

Fewer, though, knew if those with the health conditions also had health insurance.

“If you yourself need insurance, don’t be embarrassed,” Murray said. “What embarrasses you is when you go to the hospital and they say here’s your bill for $5,000, $10,000, you need to pay this. That’s embarrassing.”

Nonprofit Enroll America hosted Sunday’s event, and about 40 people scheduled appointments to sign up for health insurance. Sixteen people came by the event.

Pastor Willie C. Barnes encouraged his congregation of at least 300 to stay after the service and sign up for health care.

“Talking about affordable health care, come on everybody, let’s do this. Cause ain’t no way in the world you gonna tell me that everybody in here today have proper coverage. I don’t believe it. That’s why I’m not even gonna ask you to raise your hand.”

Federal Officials are focusing on Orlando, Tampa and Miami in a bid to get more people signed up. Consumers have until February 15 to sign up for health insurance.

Fines for not having health insurance are set to double next year.


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Abe Aboraya

About Abe Aboraya

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