As federal insurance exchanges prepare to go live in a matter of weeks, Florida’s own state-based insurance marketplace is still trying to get off the ground.
Florida Health Choices was designed to cater to small businesses and others who won’t have access to the federal exchanges and its CEO, Rose Naff, says that’s where her program comes in:
“There are 14 million Floridians who aren’t going to qualify for subsidies through individual exchanges and small business tax credits and they purchase their insurance elsewhere. Florida Health Choices fits into that realm.”
That is, if the program ever gets off the ground. While Florida Health Choices doesn’t comply with the rules governing federally-accepted insurance exchanges, the health insurance companies it contracts with are working with the feds, and that’s exacerbated the delay in getting the website up and running. Naff says Florida Health Choices will also have to be upgraded in order to support new insurance products. And that may take a while longer.
Meanwhile, a contract dispute with one of the state’s largest insurance companies could also delay the marketplace’s opening if it isn’t resolved. Naff says getting statewide insurers in place is needed to keep costs down:
“It is expensive to operate the marketplace and the more volume we have the more efficient the marketplace will be, and with enough volume we could reduce our surcharge...make products more affordable.”
Florida Health Choices also has two statewide dental programs that have agreed to offer plans on its exchanges. It’s still not clear when the marketplace will be open for business. When it does, it may still be in competition with federal health insurance exchanges for customers.