Florida Picks 6 Firms to Offer Coverage to Uninsured

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) – Oct. 17, 2008 – United Healthcare and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida were among six insurers picked by the state Thursday to provide no-frills health insurance plans for nearly 4 million Floridians now without coverage.

The insurance products will be offered to residents who have been without insurance for at least six months and will become available for purchase in early 2009.

The program is the result of a bill signed into law in May by Gov. Charlie Crist that lets insurance companies offer scaled-back health plans without all the usually required coverages, which could provide some protection for as little as $150 a month.

It was a top priority for the Republican governor who said it would take away a lot of worry for those who can afford the new, albeit nominal coverage.

“We now are moving closer to seeing this low-cost health insurance option become a reality for Florida consumers who do not currently have health insurance,” Florida Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty said Thursday.

The program, known as “Cover Florida,” will be open to uninsured people between the ages of 19 and 64 and is aimed at preventive and basic care. Children and the elderly are generally eligible for other government programs such as Medicaid, Medicare and the state’s KidCare subsidized insurance program for children.

United and Blue Cross Blue Shield will provide coverage statewide.

Florida Health Care Plan was selected to provide benefits in Volusia and Flagler counties, while JMH Health Plan, Total Health Choice and Medical Health Plan of Florida were chosen to offer plans for the uninsured in Broward and Miami-Dade.

The newly approved carriers will offer consumers at least two plans, one with catastrophic and hospital coverage, and one without.

Copyright © 2008 The Associated Press, Brent Kallestad.

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