TALLAHASSEE, Fla. /Florida Newswire/ -– Governor Charlie Crist today visited the emergency wing of Capital Regional Medical Center in Tallahassee to discuss the benefits of Cover Florida Health Care coverage for Floridians without health insurance. He encouraged Floridians to learn more about the affordable, quality health insurance coverage that is increasing access to health care for uninsured applicants age 19 to 64. He also discussed the plans with Cover Florida policyholders Rebecca Rice and Carly Ramsey, both of Tallahassee.

Governor Crist“Floridians choosing Cover Florida Health Care are saving hundreds of dollars a month on their health care costs,” Governor Crist said. “People decide what works for them – for their health needs and for their wallet – and are then empowered to take control of their own health care.”

Four of the six Cover Florida plans available in Leon County have monthly premiums averaging $155 or less – and all of the preventive plans average less than $100. Applicants can choose between either statewide carrier Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida or United Healthcare. Each insurer offers at least two benefit options – one with catastrophic and hospital coverage, and one focusing on preventive care. Each plan has a wide-ranging set of benefit options that include coverage for preventive services, screenings, office visits, as well as office surgery, urgent care, hospital coverage, emergency care, prescription drugs, durable medical equipment, and diabetic supplies.

While at the hospital, Governor Crist emphasized how Cover Florida Health Care plans provide affordable access to health care for uninsured Floridians by highlighting the stories of two policyholders:

· Rebecca Rice, a 25-year-old single mother, lost her job because she could not get medical clearance to return to work after an accident. Unable to afford the cost of the necessary doctor’s visit, she lost her health insurance coverage when she became unemployed. Now working part-time, she is grateful that affordable health insurance is available through Cover Florida Health Care. Her child’s health care is covered by his father’s policy, and now she too has the coverage she needs.

· Carly Ramsey, 27, made the decision to pursue her education at Tallahassee Community College, which required leaving her job, as well as the health insurance available to her there. She researched many health insurance options and found them all unaffordable, especially for a single mother. When she learned about Cover Florida Health Care, she contacted an agent to enroll. For $92 a month, Cover Florida is allowing her to maintain the same the level of care she previously had while gaining a much needed monthly savings of hundreds of dollars.

Also joining Governor Crist for the tour of Capital Regional Medical Center’s emergency wing were Secretary Holly Benson of the Agency for Health Care Administration and several of the hospital’s leaders, including Bud Wethington, chief executive officer; Dale Neely, chief operating officer; and Marie Johnson, chief nursing officer.

Earlier this week, Governor Crist announced the initial results of the first two months of enrollment in Cover Florida Health Care plans. As of February 28, 2009, the health plans reported enrolling 952 Floridians – 82 percent of whom chose catastrophic coverage, and 18 percent chose preventive coverage. He also encouraged businesses, health care providers and other organizations to help increase awareness about the affordable, quality health insurance coverage made available to Florida’s nearly four million uninsured applicants age 19 to 64.

Governor Crist encouraged Floridians interested in Cover Florida Health Care plans to visit the Web site and compare the sample benefits and premium information from insurers. Each company operates a Cover Florida-specific toll-free telephone line and Web page making it possible for interested individuals to discuss their health care options with each insurer directly.

More About Cover Florida Health Care

Six health insurance providers have been authorized by the Agency for Health Care Administration, the Office of Insurance Regulation and the Executive Office of the Governor to offer Cover Florida Health Care plans. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida and United Healthcare are available in all 67 Florida counties, with additional insurers available in Broward, Miami-Dade, Volusia and Flagler counties.

Consumers interested in purchasing Cover Florida benefits should contact the insurance carriers directly. The six companies have designed 25 creative health insurance products. Cover Florida plans contain no mandates for participation and are portable from one employer to another because they are individual policies. Voluntary for both employers and policyholders, employers also may voluntarily share in the cost of the plan with their employees or may assist employees with a payroll deduction, providing a pre-tax benefit for the employee and a payroll tax break for the employer.

The cost of plans varies, depending on the applicant’s age, gender and choice of preventive coverage or catastrophic and hospital coverage. Fourteen of the 25 Cover Florida plans have monthly premiums averaging $155 or less, with all of the preventive plans offering coverage for, on average, $155 or less.

The Cover Florida plan was unanimously approved by the 2008 Legislature, and no tax dollars are required to make the plans available to Floridians. Selected by the State of Florida through a competitive bidding process, the six private insurance carriers were chosen based on their proposed robust, innovative and affordable health insurance products.

Acting jointly on behalf of the State of Florida, the Agency for Health Care Administration and the Office of Insurance Regulation issued the competitive Invitation to Negotiate and reviewed insurers’ responses, along with representatives from the Executive Office of the Governor. Once the six providers were selected, the state agencies worked jointly with the insurance carriers to finalize the contracts. Throughout the competitive process, the state agencies worked to ensure that Cover Florida products would not only offer robust benefits but also be financially sound. Moving forward, the state agencies are monitoring the sale of the products and addressing consumer concerns.

For more information about Cover Florida benefit options, visit To see sample benefits and costs, click on “Available Plans,” and select a county or compare all available Cover Florida Health Care plans.