HIALEAH, Fla. /Florida Newswire/ — Governor Charlie Crist today visited Medica Health Plans Medical Center in Hialeah 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 David Katzberg and Luisa Diaz.
“Without health care, people worry about getting sick and not being able to afford expensive doctor and hospital bills,” Governor Crist said. “Cover Florida Health Care is health care coverage people can afford, and the online information makes it easy for people to choose the plan right for them.”
Medica Health Plan of Florida is one of five Cover Florida insurers available in Miami-Dade County. The two statewide carriers are Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida and United Healthcare, and two additional insurers are JMH Health Plan and Total Health Choice. Twelve of the 21 Cover Florida plans available in Miami-Dade County have monthly premiums averaging $155 or less – and all of the preventive plans average less than $155. Medica and Total Health also serve Broward County.
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 center, 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:
Luisa Diaz, 63, is retired and has been without insurance for three years. During that time, she was very concerned about getting sick and not getting regular health checkups. She researched possible insurance companies, but they charged between $700 and $800 a month because of her age. She learned about Cover Florida through a television news story. She pays less than $250 a month and is very happy with this insurance coverage.
David Katzberg was unemployed for two years until the condo where he had volunteered for years offered him a paying position. He used the Cover Florida online comparison tools to select the plan best for him. Through his Cover Florida Health Care plan, he was finally able to purchase new eyeglasses.
Also joining Governor Crist for the tour of Mary Saiz, vice president of Medica Healthcare Plans, and Eduardo Rubio, director of center operations.
Last 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 www.CoverFloridaHealthCare.com 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.
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 www.CoverFloridaHealthCare.com. To see sample benefits and costs, click on “Available Plans,” and select a county or compare all available Cover Florida Health Care plans.