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State Exchange Profiles: Florida


Final update made on December 14, 2012 (no further updates will be made)

Establishing the Exchange

In December 2012, Governor Rick Scott (R) announced that Florida would not be pursuing efforts to implement a state-based health insurance exchange.1 Governor Scott has been a vocal opponent of federal health reform and the state has refused multiple funding opportunities available through the Affordable Care Act (ACA).2 Florida was also the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit brought by 26 states seeking to declare parts of federal health reform unconstitutional.3

At the same time, Florida has been proceeding with an initiative, Florida Health Choices, to create a new marketplace for small businesses that predates the passage of federal health reform.4,5The initiative, begun in 2008 with the enactment of SB 2534, will include a web portal where employers with 50 or fewer employees and some individuals, such as state retirees, can shop for health plans offered in their county.6,7 The state provided a one-time appropriation of $1.5 million for start-up funding, with on-going support provided through a fee of 2% of the premium for every policy sold through the marketplace paid by participating health plans and a $300 annual payment from agents who sell policies through the marketplace. Florida Health Choices has appointed a Board of Directors, hired staff, and appointed two steering committees to advise the Board- one for vendors and another for agents. In May of 2012, Florida Health Choices identified a third party administrator to provide a web portal, online plan selection tools, and a statewide customer contact center.8 In September 2012, the state began beta testing the web portal.9 Florida Health Choices does not currently comply with provisions in the ACA, such as providing subsidies to assist eligible low-income individuals with purchasing insurance or mandating that health plans sold through the exchange cover certain health benefits.

In 2011, the Governor signed HB 97/SB 1414, which prohibits coverage of abortions when insurance is purchased through an exchange using state or federal funds, except in cases of rape, incest, or life endangerment of the pregnant woman.10 The legislation allows health insurance policies to offer separate coverage for abortions not purchased with state or federal funds.

Essential Health Benefits (EHB): The ACA requires that all non-grandfathered individual and small-group plans sold in a state, including those offered through the Exchange, cover certain defined health benefits. Since Florida has not put forward a recommendation, the state’s benchmark EHB plan will default to the largest small-group plan in the state, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida- BlueOptions, PPO.

Exchange Funding

Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration received a federal Exchange Planning grant of $1 million in 2010, but has since returned the grant.11

Next Steps

The federal government will assume full responsibility for running a health insurance exchange in Florida beginning in 2014.

1. Young, Jeffrey. “Obamacare: Florida GOP Gov. Rick Scott Won’t Implement health Care Reform.” HuffingtonPost. December 14, 2012.
2. “Florida Shuns Funds Tied to Health Care Reform.” Florida Today. March 26, 2012.
3. Baribeau S. “Florida’s Scott May Press for U.S. Health Aid.” Bloomberg. August 9, 2011.
4. Scott, Rick. “ObamaCare: One Year Too Many.”
5. Galewitz P. “Florida to Launch Its Own Health Insurance Marketplace.” The Washington Post. October 8, 2011.
6. SB 2534 (Chapter 2008-32). Florida act related to health insurance and Cover Florida Health Care Access Program. 2008.
7. See:
8. Florida Health Choices Names Xerox as Program Administrator.” May 2012. Health Choices.
9. See Florida Health Choices:
10. HB 97/SB 1414 (Chapter 2011-11). Florida’s 2011 act related to health insurance.
11. Baribeau S. “Florida’s Scott May Press for U.S. Health Aid.” Bloomberg. August 9, 2011.

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