NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

HELP MORE FLORIDIANS GET HEALTH INSURANCE

October 20, 2006

Because the uninsured are more likely to wait until their condition is at its worst, they usually show up at emergency rooms, where they receive the most costly and often least effective care, says Holly Benson (R-Pensacola), chairs the Health and Families Council in the Florida House.

And too frequently they stick the hospitals with the bill.  Or the taxpayers:

  • The Florida Hospital Association estimates that hospitals statewide face $2.1 billion in uncompensated care annually.
  • So the hospitals must shift those costs -- either to their insured patients, whose premiums are increased an estimated 20 percent to cover the costs of the uninsured or to taxpayers.
  • The state subsidizes hospitals by more than $1 billion annually.
  • And what has evolved is a system that is financed by default rather than by design.

While other state legislatures are looking to the public sector to solve their health insurance woes, the campaign for 100 Innovative Ideas for Florida's Future has been moving proactively to find private-sector solutions, says Benson.  Already Florida is seeing innovation:

  • Wal-Mart recently announced it will sell 30-day supplies of nearly 300 generic prescriptions for $4 each. Other retailers are following suit.
  • Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Florida's Blue Foundation for a Healthy Florida and TogetherRx have been working with the Florida Department of Health to build a network of free clinics and help our poorest residents get access to lower-cost prescriptions.
  • Aetna has launched its "All About the Benefits" campaign to reach the so-called young immortals who believe they are invincible and don't need insurance.
  • eHealthInsurance.com, a Web-based marketplace for health insurance that allows individuals to comparison-shop for insurance, will be launching a grass-roots tour across Florida to educate people on the affordability of insurance this month.

Source: Holly Benson, "Help More Floridians Get Health Insurance," Tampa Tribune, October 20, 2006.

 

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