Miami Herald: Critics: Florida health plan no better than private

Sep 3, 2009

This article was published in the Miami Herald on September 3, 2009


At the state and local level, plans have been created to deal with the underinsured and the uninsured — although some have many of the same flaws criticized in private health insurance plans. The state’s ”Cover Florida” program is intended to provide low-cost coverage to young people and others who are uninsured. BlueCross BlueShield, for example, would cover a couple, both 40 and healthy, for $337 a month.

With Cover Florida’s $3,000 deductible and annual maximum benefit of $25,000, some have argued that it provides very minimal coverage. Dr. Paul Duncan, chairman of the Health Services Research Department at University of Florida, agrees, but points out that the the plan is aimed at people who have been out of work, without any health insurance for at least six months. ”In that context, it’s a positive thing,” he says.

In July, Miami-Dade County and BlueCross BlueShield of Florida started a ”Miami-Dade Blue” health insurance plan for Dade residents. After a deductible of $250, the policy pays up to $50 for doctor visits, 100 percent of in-network lab tests, 90 percent of in-patient hospital fees, with a lifetime benefit maximum of $5 million.

But it does not pay for brand-name drugs, and excludes people with some pre-existing conditions.

BlueCross BlueShield will sell the Miami-Dade Blue policy to a healthy, 40-year-old couple for $249 a month. ”Miami-Dade Blue was designed for people who have no insurance,” says Janet Perkins, executive director of the Miami-Dade Office of Countywide Healthcare Planning. ”Obviously it’s not a boutique plan that provides everything you could want.”

Broward County does not have a similar plan.