Zip code with most Obamacare enrollments votes Republican
Just a few miles outside of Miami, the streets of Hialeah are lined with strip malls, fast-food joints, car dealerships, and in recent months, lots of Obamacare enrollment centers.
That is part of the reason why the so-called "City of Progress" is the home to two of the five zip codes with the most Obamacare sign-ups in the country. Topping the list is zip code 33012, which, according to the Department of Health & Human Services' latest figures, saw more than 12,000 enrollments - leading the nation's zip codes, by far.
But here's the catch: This section of Hialeah is predominantly Republican.
In the last presidential election, which was dominated with rhetoric about the Affordable Care Act, this community voted roughly 58% to 42% in favor of Mitt Romney. It's a red island in a sea of blue, when you take into account that surrounding Miami-Dade County has gone for a Democratic presidential nominee in every election since 1992.
While the national party still lists repealing the health law and replacing it with an alternative, in Hialeah, the business of Obamacare is booming.
"It wasn't surprising to me," said Republican state senator Rene Garcia, who represents the 33012 area. "For many years, we've had one of the highest uninsured rates in Miami-Dade County. By the implementation of the ACA, it's given them the opportunity to go out and purchase insurance." According to the U.S. Census Bureau, almost half of the city's population was uninsured, before Obamacare went into effect.
Add to that two striking economic figures: 24.5% of resident live below the poverty line and ther is a $14,321 per capita income. The result, Sen. Garcia said, "it's not a Republican or Democrat issue. It's just the reality. And, the realities are that now they can afford health insurance for their families. And they've gone out and done it."
The intense marketing for the Affordable Care Act has also driven enrollment.
"Last year, you saw a few signs here and there. But, if you go around this time, you see a bunch of Obamacare signs: on bus-stops, on buildings, across the entire region," said Nick Duran, Florida director for Enroll America, a left-leaning nonprofit organization, which promotes health coverage around the country.
On the other side of the political spectrum, Republicans agree, the promotions worked. "They've done a good job of getting the word out," Sen. Garcia said.
In addition, Florida saw a huge jump in opportunities for people to sign-up during the open enrollment period, which ended in February.