Florida health insurance exchange
Florida 1st in applications, health plan selection among states using HealthCare.gov
By Carla Anderson
December 3, 2013
Despite state leaders’ efforts to stymy implementation of the Affordable Care Act, Florida residents showed enthusiasm for getting health insurance. In the first month of enrollment, Floridians completed more than 67,000 applications to cover nearly 125,000 people. More than 3,500 have selected a health plan, a figure that will rise quickly as the Dec. 23 deadline approaches for coverage to begin Jan. 1. About 13,000 additional residents have qualified for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
Florida Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican, has been an outspoken critic of the federal health reform law, including the health insurance exchanges. Florida legislators not only failed to approve legislation to create an exchange in Florida, they returned a $1 million federal planning grant awarded in 2010. And right after the Supreme Court ruling that upheld most of the Affordable Care Act in June 2012, Gov. Scott announced that Florida will not establish a state-based health insurance exchange. That means the federal government is operating the marketplace in Florida.
Florida continues to fight against the Affordable Care Act and operation of the health insurance marketplace. In September, the Florida Department of Health (DOH) banned navigators from all county public health facilities. Florida DOH officials have said the move is consistent with its policy of blocking outside groups that are not doing state business. They have also said the ban helps protects consumers from privacy concerns stemming from the collection of personal information for inclusion in a federal database. The Obama administration strongly criticized the ban on navigators, labeling the order “obstructionist” and “plain absurdity.”
The federal exchange may end up competing with Florida Health Choices, which is the state’s own version of an online marketplace. Florida Health Choices was established by 2008 legislation. However, it is still not operational. According to its website, Florida Health Choices will launch early in 2014.
Florida’s own insurance exchange does not meet comply with the Affordable Care Act. As originally conceived, Florida Health Choices was only to be available to small businesses only, not individuals. Plans have now evolved to include options for individuals. Florida Health Choice will not subsidize the cost of plans sold through the exchange for low-income individuals or offer tax credits to businesses. Nor does Florida Health Choices require a minimum set of benefits as the ACA exchanges do in the form of essential health benefits.
On the federally operated exchange, 10 insurers are selling ACA-compliant health insurance policies. Those insurers are Aetna, Cigna, Coventry Health Care of Florida, Florida Blue (Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida), Florida Health Care Plan Health Options, Humana, Molina Healthcare, Simply Healthcare Plan, and Sunshine State Health.
According to a report released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the average cost for a bronze plan —the lowest-cost option — in Florida is $257 a month. The national average for a bronze policy is $249 a month.
According to HHS, 3.5 million Florida residents are uninsured and eligible to use the ACA-compliant marketplace. Open enrollment for coverage in 2014 runs from Oct. 1, 2013 through March 31, 2014. Policies must be purchased by Dec. 23 for coverage to begin Jan. 1, 2014.
Florida health insurance exchange links
State Exchange Profile: Florida
The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation overview of Florida’s progress toward creating a state health insurance exchange.
Florida Health Choices
State exchange, which is not part of the Affordable Care Act, set to launch in 2014
Florida Office of Insurance Regulation
Assists consumers who have purchased insurance on the individual market or who have insurance through an employer who only does business in Florida.
(1-877-693-5236) / Out of State: (850) 413-3089
Subscriber Assistance Program – Agency for Health Care Administration
Serves residents enrolled in managed care; helps resolve grievance between managed care entities and their subscribers.
1-888-419-3456 (toll-free nationwide)