Last 2008, due to the rising cost of FL health insurance, lawmakers approved a Florida Health Choices program to give small businesses more options to help them cover employees with a health plan. This program is expected to create an online health insurance marketplace where people can instantly shop for different Florida health insurance plans. After three years of lengthy delays, it appears that the program will finally come to fruition thanks, in part, to a boost from Gov. Rick Scott.
When Will This Online Florida Health Insurance Exchange Be Ready?
Gov. Scott has already signed two bills, HB 1473 and HB 1125, which will help with the implementation of the program. According to Chief Executive Officer Rose Naff, the Florida Health Choices program might be ready this summer, but a specific start date still isn’t known.
HB 1473 will provide public-records exemptions, which Naff says is important to protect consumers’ confidential information. HB 1125 is necessary to give large employers a chance to participate in the program by eliminating the restriction that Florida Health Choices can only be used by small businesses with 50 or fewer employees. Naff added that large employers will still need to get approval from the Florida Health Choices board of directors to participate because he says, “Our target is still going to be businesses at 50 and smaller.”
Online Florida Health Insurance Market Generates Pro And Con Opinions
There is still a lot of apprehension and skepticism about the new program. U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio says the basic idea of having this online market for FL health insurance is to make shopping for various types of Florida health coverage easier to navigate than the traditional system has been.
Businesses that sign up for the program are expected to have a broader range of choice under the online marketplace than was previously available. Initially, coverage options will only be provided by established insurance companies. In the long run, the program is also expected to allow hospitals and clinics to sell specific types of services through the online marketplace.
Laura Goodhue, the executive director of Florida CHAIN, is apprehensive about Florida Health Choices. Goodhue says, “We see it as a hodgepodge of inadequate, not-even health coverage.” She added that implementing Florida Health Choices when the state health insurance exchange is coming in 2014 doesn’t make much sense. The state-based insurance exchange of 2014 will have stricter coverage requirements based on the federal mandate than Florida Health Choices has, so employees may be better served by the 2014 exchange.
What Can Consumers Do To Find Affordable FL Health Insurance Plans Now?
Neither of these options are yet available, but Florida has many residents in desperate need of Florida health insurance. One of the things that may hinder many people from getting much-needed coverage is simply not knowing how to find the most affordable coverage options. With hundreds of choices from different insurance companies, it’s hard to compare plans until you understand that there are different categories of plans.
The different categories include co-pay plans that have a $25 or $35 out-of-pocket cost to see a doctor or fill a prescription and deductible plans that only pay claims for recommended preventive care until you have spent a pre-determined amount on health care each year. Other options include Health Savings Account Plans and Medigap Insurance.
Each form of FL health insurance has certain advantages and disadvantages, but if low premiums are your priority, explore the high-deductible plans that allow you to open a Health Savings Account (HSA). When you choose certain high-deductible plans, you can open a tax-free savings or investment account and to boost your savings in case you need to pay for health care before the plan’s deductible is met.
Another way to keep your premiums low is just by taking good care of your health. Not only does that typically mean low premiums, but you also won’t be plagued by coverage exclusions for a pre-existing condition, much less have to appeal when your application is declined.