TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – April 9, 2008 – Governor Charlie Crist met with Marianna Realtors Stephanie Wise Adams and Jeff Adams yesterday to discuss health insurance in Florida, part of a Tallahassee Tuesday informal discussion at the Florida Governor’s Mansion. Both Realtors have had trouble finding health care coverage, and Crist used the opportunity to push for a pet project – limited health insurance policies for all Floridians that would cost as little as $150 per month.
Stephanie Adams told Crist that her family has a foreboding medical history; Jeff noted that he was heavier than the 225-pound cutoff for coverage offered by one carrier. “We’ve both been rejected numerous times,” Jeff said. As a result, recent emergency gall bladder surgery left the couple $30,000 in debt.
“Many of Florida’s small business owners and families are frustrated by the high cost of health insurance, and many are choosing to go without coverage,” Governor Crist said. “Unfortunately, emergency rooms across the state are carrying the load of providing health care to uninsured Floridians whenever it is needed.”
The group also included other small business owners from around the state. Small business owners from Madison, Dan and Cindi Perron, said that the lack of affordable coverage made it impossible to help their 12 employees and also put them at a disadvantage when competing with larger companies.
Belinda Boncaro, a registered nurse in Lecanto, said she pays $670 per month for her health insurance because it is the only plan available that would cover her diabetes. But she still thinks she might drop her insurance because of its high cost.
S.B. 2534, sponsored by Senator Durell Peaden (R-Crestview), would allow state government to negotiate with health insurers to develop affordable health insurance coverage for uninsured Floridians. Private health insurers have indicated a willingness to provide benefits packages for $150 or less per month.
Benefits would include office visits, office surgery, behavioral health services, diabetic supplies, durable medical equipment and prosthetics, inpatient hospital stays, outpatient facility services and hospital emergency care services. Insurers would also competitively bid to provide supplemental coverage for vision, dental, cancer and discount medical options.
Under the plan, policyholders would be able to carry dependents until age 30. Parents typically cannot carry non-student dependents after age 25. The age 19 to 30 population has the highest rate of uninsured individuals, yet are typically healthier, and will improve the insurer’s risk profile.
Additionally, S.B. 2534 contains no individual mandates and no employer mandates. Employers will be encouraged to participate and cost-share premiums with employees. However, individuals would be allowed to participate even if their employer does not.
© 2008 FLORIDA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®