Florida legislators are looking to launch a new health care plan for small businesses in July 2012. The Florida Health Choices program, which was first built by lawmakers in 2008, aims to bring affordable health care policies to small businesses as an alternative to those offered by private insurance companies. The program has been in the development phase for several years partly because legislators want to make certain the program is being built correctly. The Florida Health Choices board says that the program is as ready as it will ever be.
Supporters of the program believe that it will bring more competition to the state’s insurance market. This competition is expected to drive down insurance prices for small businesses. Opponents of the program argue that it is unnecessary because the state is required to build a health insurance exchange by the federal government. While the exchange will bring some of the same benefits the Health Choices program looks to bring, the exchange is not built to cater specifically to small businesses.
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The program was originally scheduled to begin offering coverage this year, but had fallen behind the open enrollment period for set up by employers. As such, employees would not have been able to purchase plans through the program. Some of the largest insurance companies in Florida have already expressed interest in participating in the program. These companies include Aetna, Blue Cross Blue Shield and UnitedHealthcare.