Six months after the launch of a $900,000 alternative to the Affordable Care Act, Florida’s Health Choices program has only signed up 30 subscribers and administrators say they are considering offering pet insurance if it will help draw more customers.
According to the Tampa Bay Times, the program was created in lieu of expanding Medicaid or working with the federal government to offer subsidized insurance plans.
Unlike the federally backed programs, Florida Health Choices doesn’t offer health insurance plans designed to shield consumers from big-ticket expenses like hospitalization, instead offering limited benefits and discount plans for items like dental visits, prescription drugs, and eye-care.
After six months Florida Health Choices only has 30 enrollees, not counting seven plans which were canceled either because the subscribers changed their minds or they failed to pay their premiums.
During that same period, nearly 984,000 Floridians have enrolled in private coverage under Obamacare, leaving nearly 764,000 Floridians who are too poor to afford subsidized plans and unable to qualify for Medicaid due to Florida’s strict standards which the GOP-controlled legislature and Republican governor refuse to alter despite offers of federal assistance.
Citing poor enrollment numbers, one of Florida Health Choices biggest backers, state Sen. Aaron Bean (R-Fernandina Beach), expressed disappointment, saying “Obviously we wanted more (business), but the competition is giving it away for free.”
Rose Naff, CEO of Florida Health Choices, admitted the program is off to a slow start, and said they were seeking new products and companies to partner with, while admitting they have considered selling medical insurance for pets if that would help draw more business.
“We’re going to continue to grow and learn about our users and enhance the platform,” Naff explained.
Naff also pointed out that the program has not spent the entire $900,000 budget and in fact, has more than $1 million in the bank after reaching a settlement in a dispute with the firm originally hired to build the website.
Florida Health Choices is the brainchild of Florida Sen. Marco Rubio (R) who proposed a low income insurance program while serving the Florida legislature.
In December of last year, Rubio enrolled his family in a federal health care exchange created by the Affordable Care Act.
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