Florida Health Insurance Plan Flops, Says Non-Profit Research Group

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Cover Florida, the "health insurance" policy pushed by Gov. Charlie Crist included promises to provide subsidies that would help low income Florida residents pay for health insurance. "That's not exactly what happened," said Morgan Moran, a health insurance consultant. "Cover Florida was supposed to be guarantee coverage for everyone; however, a loophole has allowed insurance carriers to exclude coverage for pre-existing conditions, emergency room visits, and inpatient care."

Crist Back Out On Health Insurance Promise

a few months ago Governor Crist went town to town, promising every low income person in Florida, health insurance, with adequate benefits, but that is not the way it turned out.

"Florida's silver haired Governor, Charlie Crist, who hopes to be John McCain's Vice Presidential running mate, appears to be playing politics with your health insurance coverage." Health insurance expert Morgan Moran, of Florida Health Insurance Web said, "a few months ago Governor Crist went town to town, promising every low income person in Florida, health insurance, with adequate benefits, but that is not the way it turned out."

The latest data from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a nonprofit policy-research group in Washington, D.C., has been looking closely at the Crist plan, says, "The new law passed by the Florida Legislature in May, as a way to reduce the state's 3.7 million uninsured, is unlikely to work". Commenting on the report, Moran blasted, "It was bad enough that Florida rewrote its rules on health insurance coverage that would allow insurance companies to offer low-cost plans with limited benefits, but now," according to Moran, "they limited or excluded common insurance benefits like emergency room visits; who wants to buy insurance that excludes emergency room visits?"

WHO NEEDS HEALTH INSURANCE?

Florida has 3.2 million residents who don't have health insurance, because either it is not offered by their employer, they are self-employed and can't afford it, or don't qualify for Medicaid. There are also a few who can afford coverage, and choose for other reasons not to buy it.

The Washington report has sharp criticism for Gov. Crist. It says the "Cover Florida Plan is unlikely to reduce the uninsured rate in Florida without substantial premium subsidies for the low-income residents," said Moran. "What struck me about the Cover Florida plan is that it would not cover impatient care or visits to the emergency room." "When you think about what you would want to be protected against, that is where want to be protected."

Moran said "He believes that Cover Florida won't have a major impact in reducing the uninsured in Florida because major health insurers like Humana are already offering a wide variety of low-cost, high-deductible health plans", many with a health savings account, that "provide Floridians with affordable health insurance coverage."

Moran said, "Florida's has tried similar plans like this before. The 6-year-old "Health Flex" plan had fewer than 2,300 members as of December 2007, the report noted, and virtually all those who enrolled in Florida's Health Flex Plan did so in counties where they received subsidies to help them pay for it.

Moran spoke about this insurance plan in May of this year. "The Governor's 'Cover Florida' is not designed to 'Cover Florida'," said Moran, "it allows big insurance companies free reign to create smaller insurance plans with lesser benefits". And it gets worse. "The insurers can cap services, limit coverage, require co-pays and offer very limited prescription-drug coverage; not exactly what is needed right now," Moran said.

These new health plans would come with a smaller price tag - about $150 a month, as opposed to current Florida health insurance premiums that can exceed $600. Moran said, "When the governor created this plan he hoped that people would buy insurance if it were cheaper, but now it seems that $150 is in the gas tank, or the food bill, or something else."

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