Despite a long (and ongoing) fight to overturn the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Florida has taken steps to create its own state health exchange, rather than risk being forced under the wings of the federal exchange in early 2014.

In some ways, the Sunshine State’s exchange resembles the one that federal officials are preparing to make available in all states in January 2014, but there are also key differences:

  • Florida’s exchange is open only to small businesses (those with 50 or fewer employees), not to individuals
  • Florida’s exchange does not require participating plans to offer certain essential benefits, as the federal exchange will
  • Florida’s exchange does not provide subsidies or tax credits for low-income enrollees

So far, the plan hasn’t received a great deal of support from those in the industry. In part, this could be due to another difference between the state plan and the federal one: both insurers and insurance agents must pay to participate. The plan requires that insurers pay 2 percent of the premium for every policy sold, and agents pay $300 per year to sell exchange-based plans.

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