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With more than three million Floridians without health insurance, Gov. Charlie Crist has finalized a plan to bring low-cost health coverage to all.
Some are calling it innovative and a free-market solution, others say it doesn’t go far enough.
The plan is called Cover Florida and it is open to people ages 19 to 64 who have been uninsured for at least six months or whose COBRA payments have been exhausted.
State lawmakers approved it last spring. Cover Florida offers catastrophic and preventive plans. Rates also depend on the age and gender of the consumer. Altogether, there will be 25 plans to choose from. Shoppers can find more at the web site, www.CoverFloridaHealthCare.com.
There will be limits to the coverage. The cheapest policy does not cover hospital stays, while other plans limit the number of days they cover. Consumers will have to ask questions to fully understand what they are buying.
“Don’t just look at the price,” says Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty to the News Journal, “You really have to look at the product.”
Six insurers joined Crist at a news conference Wednesday to announce Cover Florida, which begins January 5, 2009. "This is about helping people, helping children, helping seniors and making a difference in their lives," Crist said.
For instance, a 35-year-old woman could buy a preventive policy from United Healthcare for $87.94 to $89.41 a month. She would pay $228.74 to $232.56 for a catastrophic policy, which would include benefits such as 10 days of inpatient hospital care a year, according to the Daytona News Journal online.
Critics points to the “thin” coverage and high co-pays if you do get sick. For example hospital coverage could cost $750 a day as a co-payment for up to 12 days per year.
Insurance agent, Douglas Gibson, says he doesn’t expect too many takers at that price, “because they know that can go to the hospital if they get sick,” he said to the paper.
There wil be no government subsidies involved in Cover Florida. Companies involved include, Florida Health Care Plans, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida and United Healthcare. Other companies will offer coverage in select counties only. #