Florida: GOP "Anti-Obamacare" site only enrolls 0.004% as many as HC.gov
TALLAHASSEE — Last year, legislators allocated $900,000 to help Floridians find affordable health care through a new state-backed website.
At the same time, they refused to expand Medicaid or work with the federal government to offer subsidized insurance plans.
Six months after the launch of the state's effort, called Florida Health Choices (floridahealthchoices.net), just 30 people have signed up. Another seven plans were canceled either because consumers changed their minds or didn't pay for services.
Yes, that's right. After two months of taking ravenous glee at Healthcare.Gov's technical woes and low inital enrollment numbers last fall, followed by 5 month months of basically refusing to believe it when the numbers reached 5.4 million (plus another 2.6 million on the state ACA exchanges), and another 4 months since then of muttering into their beer about "but...but how many HAVE PAID???" even after the insurance companies themselves confirmed that a good 85-90% of enrollees were doing so...
...after all of that, it turns out that the Republicans in Florida tried launching their own "health insurance marketplace" on the taxpayers' dime...and it was so incredibly "successful" that six months later, only 37 people even tried to purchase their offerings...and 7 of those (19%) skipped out without paying.
Yup, even the payment rate at the GOP-run exchange is worse than that of the Affordable Care Act.
Meanwhile, 984,000 Floridians enrolled in private health insurance policies via Healthcare.Gov...and those same Florida Republican lawmakers gave the shaft to hundreds of thousands of their own constituents:
These numbers are dwarfed by the nearly 764,000 Floridians who are too poor to afford subsidized plans, yet can't qualify for Medicaid under Florida's stringent standards. They are supposed to be the target market for Health Choices.
Of course it probably doesn't help that the GOP's "Health Choices" exchange (which I, of all people, had never even heard of before today, which should tell you something about what a great promotional job they did) doesn't actually sell "health insurance" as defined by a rational human being. Instead, their offerings sound an awful lot like the very "junk policies" that the Affordable Care Act is trying to get rid of in the first place...or, at best, they sound like supplements to actual insurance policies:
But Health Choices doesn't sell comprehensive health insurance to protect consumers from big-ticket costs such as hospitalization. Instead, it has limited benefit options and discount plans for items like dental visits, prescription drugs and eyeglasses.
Here's the thing: Paying $10/month to get half off your next dental checkup isn't such a bad deal...but it isn't going to do squat if you're diagnosed with lung cancer or get hit by a car.
The plan's biggest backer in the Legislature blames the lack of business on the federal Affordable Care Act, which features comprehensive plans with varying subsidies for those who qualify.
But I thought competition was a good thing? Huh. Guess not.
And whose brainchild was this, the "Anti-Obamacare" health exchange website?
Florida Health Choices was the vision of U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio back in 2008 when he was speaker of the state House. He believed the state should operate a website that allowed residents to purchase affordable insurance.
Hmmm...I agree with that statement wholeheartedly. So what happened?
But the idea stalled, and then President Barack Obama's health care reforms created insurance exchanges, as well as subsidies to help people afford policies.
As for those 30 (that's three-zero, not "three thousand" or "three hundred")...
Of the 30 policies currently active, 14 are prescription drug discount cards and another 12 are a dental and vision discount plan. The rest are plans offering discounted doctor visits and online support.
Prescription drug discount plans are controversial because they sometimes charge fees for the same savings consumers could get without them. A 2012 Consumer Reports study said discount plans made it difficult to comparison shop and many national retail chains offer their own steep discounts on common generic drugs.
So much for that.