Florida had more people sign up for health insurance than any other state using HealthCare.gov during the first month of 2015 open enrollment. Between Nov. 15 and Dec. 15, 2014, more than 673,000 Florida residents selected a health plan. Texas, with about 380,000 signups, had the second-highest enrollment on HealthCare.gov. The first-month data did not include the count of people whose policies were automatically renewed, so the next enrollment report will likely show much higher totals.
Florida has already exceeded projections for new enrollees in 2015. Officials last fall estimated that more than 1 million residents would sign up to have health insurance in 2015, including 206,000 people who were expected to enroll for the first time. Just four weeks into open enrollment, about 330,000 new consumers had already enrolled.
As of Jan. 5, Florida residents have another place to shop for “Obamacare” policies. The state-sponsored site called Florida Health Choices began selling policies that comply with the Affordable Care Act (ACA). However, federal subsidies that help qualifying individuals pay for coverage are only available through the federal marketplace, HealthCare.gov.
2015 open enrollment
Open enrollment on HealthCare.gov continues through Feb. 15. If you sign up by Jan. 15, your coverage will start Feb. 1. If you sign up between Jan. 16 and Feb. 15 (the last day of open enrollment), your coverage will start March 1.
Navigators and insurance agents are available to help with consumers. Both can help consumers evaluate the available options, but navigators cannot recommend one health plan over another. Agents receive commission from the insurance company for each person they sign up; navigators do not. Use HealthCare.gov to search for a navigator by ZIP code, or see a list on Florida’s insurance website.
Florida’s other exchange
Florida Health Choices is the state’s own version of an online marketplace. While Florida Health Choices was established by 2008 legislation, it faced many delays and did not go live until March 2014.
Florida Health Choices initially offered “discount only” plans for some health services, such as dental services and prescription drugs. These plans were not true health insurance, and consumers largely ignored the state-sponsored exchange. Just 49 people purchased plans through Florida Health Choice during 2014.
In early January 2015, Florida Health Choices began offering health plans that comply with the ACA and cover the ACA’s ten essential health benefits. Policies from four insurers are available: Assurant, Cigna, Humana, and UnitedHealthCare.
Consumers who shop on Florida Health Choices can NOT obtain subsidies to help them pay for coverage. Those subsidies are available only through HealthCare.gov, the federally facilitated marketplace. More than 90 percent of Florida residents who purchased coverage in 2014 qualified for financial assistance.
The Florida Health Choices board of directors approved an $852,000 budget for 2015. Florida Health Choices has not announced official enrollment projections, but Naff was quoted in the Miami Herald saying, “I’d be tickled pink if we got 1,000 people.”
2015 premiums up 7 percent
A Commonwealth Fund analysis shows Florida marketplace premiums are up 7 percent on average compared to 2014 rates. Nationally, premiums were flat from 2014 to 2015; however, that average masks double-digit increases in some states and double-digit declines in others.
The same analysis found average monthly premiums for a 40-year old nonsmoker in Florida for 2015 are:
- $303 for bronze plans
- $369 for silver plans
- $419 for gold plans
- $487 for platinum plans
Florida officials and the Obama administration argued over the trend for 2015 premiums during the summer of 2014. Florida insurance regulators said 2015 premiums for individual and family coverage would rise 13.2 percent on average. That figure was a weighted average based on projected enrollment in the various plans. In contrast, the Obama administration projected average premiums would drop four percent. The decrease was based on an evaluation of the second-lowest silver-level health plan, which is the benchmark for premium subsidies.
2015 participating insurers
Florida residents have an extensive number of health insurers to choose from on the federal marketplace. In total, 14 companies are offering policies through the marketplace for 2015. Four of the insurers are new to the marketplace for 2015, according to Health News Florida.
Participating marketplace insurers for 2015 include Aetna, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida, Cigna, Coventry Health Care of FL, Florida Health Care Plan, Health First Health Plans, Health First Insurance, Health Options, Humana, Molina Healthcare of Florida, Preferred Medical Plan, Sunshine State Health Plan, Time Insurance Company, and UnitedHealthCare of Florida.
2014 results: highest enrollment for states using HealthCare.gov
Florida had the highest 2014 enrollment among states using HealthCare.gov and the fourth highest percentage of eligible individuals using the marketplace to purchase affordable health insurance. With 983,775 people signing up for coverage, Florida lagged only California in the number of individuals selecting a qualified health plan (QHP) during the 2014 open enrollment period.
While these are hopeful figures, there is still plenty of room to expand health insurance coverage in the Sunshine State. Although the figures vary among sources, Florida’s uninsured rates in 2013 and mid-2014 are among the highest in the U.S. Gallup puts the figures at 22.1 percent in 2013 and 18.9 percent in mid-2014. A survey by the Commonwealth Fund shows the rates as 30 percent in 2013 and 26 percent in mid-2014.
Florida exchange background
Florida staunchly opposed the Affordable Care Act and the development of an ACA-compliant health insurance marketplace. 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, Republican Gov. Rick Scott announced that Florida would not establish a state-based health insurance exchange.
In September 2013, the Florida Department of Health (DOH) banned navigators from all county public health facilities. Florida DOH officials said the move was consistent with its policy of blocking outside groups 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.”
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 established independent of the Affordable Care Act
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)