How will Florida’s Insurance Marketplace be different from an exchange under HCR?
This Post has No Comments
With the goal of increasing access to affordable, quality health care and creating a competitive market for purchasing health insurance and health services S.B. 2534 was signed into law in May 2008. This law created the Florida Health Choices Corporation, chartered to provide businesses with 50 or fewer employees and fiscally constrained counties and their school districts with access to more flexible insurance options and other products. The program is administered by a 15-member board made up of appointees chosen by the Governor, the Senate president, and the House speaker.
This Fall, Florida Health Choices will begin to roll out Florida’s Insurance Marketplace in several phases. The Marketplace will provide a central web portal where small businesses and eligible individuals can choose from a variety of health plans and services. With a single point of access to compare multiple insurance products, consumers are able to enroll in the product that best meets their needs.
Florida’s Insurance Marketplace will be launched in three distinct phases – Quick Start, Mid-term Phase, and Long-Term Phase. The major components of the Marketplace include:
- Web-based portals specifically designed for employers, employees and agents
- Shop-and-compare functionality to facilitate choice
- Online calculator to compute monthly costs
- Ability to find an agent
- Back-office product, service and financial support
- Customer contact center located in St. Petersburg, Florida
Initially, Florida’s Insurance Marketplace will include health insurance policies and health maintenance contracts. Florida’s Marketplace will evolve and grow to include more vendors, products and web-based functionality in each phase.
Sounds like an exchange – what’s different about it?
While the Florida Insurance Marketplace and the Federal Exchange concept are similar in that they are web-based and allow for choice among products and services, there are some distinct differences between Florida’s approach and the Federal approach (i.e. HCR):
- Participation in Florida’s Insurance Marketplace is purely voluntary for employers, employees and individual consumers.
- It was designed to serve Florida’s unique insurance market.
- Once fully implemented, it will provide a wider range of service providers, insurance options, benefit levels, and a greater number of consumer choices.
- It will connect consumers with the insurance agents and health benefit providers.
The Florida Health Choices Board of Directors have recognized the importance of connecting consumers with licensed insurance experts. After a unanimous vote to eliminate application and monthly fees for agents to participate in the Florida Insurance Marketplace, Chairman Aaron Bean indicated, “The success of Florida’s Insurance Marketplace depends on a good number of licensed insurance agents actively using the web portal to find and offer their small business clients a variety of insurance options. By waiving the agent fees, we have removed the barriers that might have hampered our efforts to create a competitive insurance marketplace.”
In 2013, the Florida Insurance Marketplace will expand to eligible individuals and increase the number, and types of plans and services offered.
(Photo credited to businessinsider.com)
DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, and based on particular situations, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice, financial advice and/or the advice of a licensed insurance or certified human resource professional.
© Connelly, Carlisle, Fields & Nichols 2012