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Sunshine State Gets Limited-Benefit Program

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Florida Gov. Charles Crist, R, has signed S.B. 2534, a bill that will let a state agency negotiate with carriers to provide a catastrophic health plan and a limited-benefit plan.

The limited-benefit Cover Florida Health Care Access Program plans would cover preventive care, health screenings, routine care by physicians, behavioral health care and supplies for people with diabetes.

Another plan would hold down premium costs by protecting purchasers only against the cost of inpatient hospital stays, hospital emergency care and urgent care services.

The bill, which includes no individual or employer mandates, was introduced by state Sen. Durrell Peaden, R-Crestview, Fla., and was backed by Crist.

Bill advocates say they hope insurers could over the Cover Florida plans for $150 or less per person per month.

The Florida Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors, Tallahassee, Fla., has released a statement praising Crist’s efforts to help the uninsured and noting that some health coverage is better than no coverage.

But the association “strongly urges Floridians considering this new coverage to spend time with an insurance agent to understand the limitations of these plans when compared to fully-mandated, Florida insurance plans,” FAIFA spokesman Bob Lotane says.

“Provisions of the bill that disallow dropping full insurance for the new plans were a great initiative,” Lotane says. “FAIFA will continue to work with agents who will be selling these plans to temper consumer expectations, so that they will not be surprised should they contract a serious illness that is not covered.”