Health insurance endeavor in Florida may be dubious foreshadowing for exchange initiative

Florida health insurance
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Florida health insuranceHealth insurance program from Palm Beach County is met with significant challenges

While health care reform begins to take hold on a national level, several counties throughout the U.S. are looking to make health insurance more accessible to consumers on their own. Such is the case in Pam Beach Country, Florida, where county officials are working to ensure that all residents have access to the health insurance they need. According to officials, one in five residents of Palm Beach County currently lack coverage. While officials are working to address this problem, their efforts are running into challenges that could continue making health insurance coverage scarce for some.

Program designed to provide consumers with access to affordable coverage

The county launched a program that is designed to provide subsidies to residents who cannot afford to obtain health insurance coverage from the private market. The program is also meant to provide coverage to those that are too young or make too much money to be eligible for Medicaid. This program is similar to the health insurance exchanges that each state is required to host as part of the Affordable Care Act, though on a much smaller scale. Enrollees into the Palm Beach County program are expected to pay approximately $52 a month for comprehensive coverage. The problem, however, is that there are very few enrollees.

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500 people enroll into the program a year after its launch

A year after the program launched, only 500 people enrolled into the program, less than a third of the number the county officials had anticipated. Exactly why consumers seem to be uninterested in the health insurance program is not known, but many officials suggest that one of the primary reasons people do not enroll is because they can be considered healthy. Health people do not see a need for health insurance coverage, with many of these people considering it to be an unnecessary financial burden.

Program may represent a possible future for the Florida health insurance exchange

Some officials are concerned that the performance of the program may reflect badly on the future of the health insurance exchange that is expected to begin open enrollment in October of this year. While the state’s exchange is backed heavily by the federal government, many consumers may not be inclined to purchase coverage due to the fact that they are not sick and do not want to pay for coverage they will not use. Unlike the Palm Beach County initiative, however, the state’s health insurance exchange is expected to benefit from the federal government making health insurance coverage mandatory for all U.S. citizens.

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