Florida has been working on a health insurance marketplace called Florida Health Choices. It does not comply with the requirements set in place for insurance exchanges by the Affordable Care Act. What does this mean for the Florida program?
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation Health Reform Source, Florida started working on an initiative called Florida Health Choices in 2008. When completed, it will be a web portal that individuals, and small businesses, can use to find health insurance coverage in Florida. Florida started beta testing the web portal in September of 2012.
Florida Health Choices has some similarities to what a state-based health insurance exchange is supposed to be like. However, it does not comply with certain provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
Specifically, Florida Health Choices does not provide subsidies to assist low-income individuals with purchasing health insurance. It also is including health plans that do not cover certain health benefits that the ACA requires all plans to cover.
At this time, the federal government is intending to assume full responsibility for running a health insurance exchange for Florida. If the state of Florida doesn’t like that idea, it has two options.
It can submit an exchange blueprint, and a declaration letter signed by the Governor, and an application for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services before December 14, 2012. This would enable the state to run a state-based exchange. Or, if Florida wants an exchange that is a federal and state partnership, it must submit a blueprint for that by February 15, 2013.
Some of the health plans that would be sold through Florida Health Choices do not meet federal requirements. Some of the plans would be considered to be inadequate insurance by the federal government.
This means that a person could buy a health plan through Florida Health Choices and still end up paying the penalty, (or tax), that a person who chooses to be uninsured in 2014 would have to pay. There are two ways to avoid this problem. Use the real health insurance exchange to find insurance in 2014. Or, speak with an insurance broker to find out if the plan you are considering would meet federal requirements before you purchase it.
Florida Health Choices is expected to be up and running in about a month. Individuals and small businesses will be able to use it to find insurance coverage. According to Senator Aaron Bean, chairman of program, there is potential that Florida Health Choices could shift focus in the future and provide access to dental insurance, only.
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