The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, has inspired plenty of controversy ever since it became law. With the headaches involved in signing up for coverage using the recently opened health-insurance exchanges, residents in different states are having much different experiences with Obamacare and its efforts at reforming health insurance. With Florida being the nation's fourth most populous state, the Obamacare Florida experience is critical to the Affordable Care Act's success nationwide.
With that in mind, what's the early read on Obamacare in Florida and its prospects for the future? Let's take a look at three key facts about Obamacare in Florida, and what they mean not just to Floridians, but to Americans across the country.
1. Obamacare Florida signups have had mixed results.
Florida's population of roughly 19.3 million makes up about 6.15% of the U.S. population overall. But when you look at the 17,908 people who have signed up for Obamacare in Florida since Oct. 1, and compare it to the national total of more than 364,000, Floridians make up just 4.9% of those who've chosen a health plan under the Affordable Care Act during the open enrollment period.
What's even more disturbing is that Florida has a disproportionately large number of uninsured individuals who were specifically intended to benefit from Obamacare. With estimates putting the number of uninsured Floridians under age 65 at 3.8 million, second only to Texas, the results thus far for Obamacare in Florida are disappointing for advocates of the health-care law.
One positive note is that Florida leads the nation among those states using the bug-prone federal online health-insurance exchange. With more completed applications, people applying for coverage, and people selecting a final plan choice than any other state using the federal website, Floridians do seem to be overcoming some of the initial challenges of getting Obamacare coverage.
2. Florida's government hasn't embraced all of Obamacare's provisions.
Florida has a history of fighting against the Affordable Care Act. It joined in a lawsuit back in 2010 as one of 20 states seeking to have the law declared unconstitutional. In the end, the Supreme Court declared that the individual mandate for health insurance was permissible, but it gave states the ability to opt out of the Affordable Care Act's provisions to expand Medicaid coverage.
Moreover, Florida chose not to accept federal funds to help advertise the availability of subsidies under Obamacare to those with incomes less than 400% of the federal poverty line. That has left it to privately funded organizations to try to spread the word about Obamacare Florida subsidies, with the attendant challenges of spreading the word to every corner of the geographically and demographically diverse state.
3. Plan options under Obamacare in Florida are fairly numerous.
Given the size of the Florida insurance market, it's not surprising to find many different companies providing policies under Obamacare. According to figures from ValuePenguin, you'll find Aetna (NYSE:AET), Cigna (NYSE:CI), Humana (NYSE:HUM), and Molina Healthcare (NYSE:MOH) plans among 11 different insurers on the exchange.
The challenge for Floridians is navigating all the plans these companies offer . The Miami Herald reported recently that Miami-Dade County had more than 140 different plan options available to residents, with Broward County residents having 136 different choices. In addition to cost, these plans vary widely in terms of benefits covered, the networks they include, and associated costs such as copays and deductibles. Obamacare in Florida offers more variety than in many other states, but that makes it more complicated for residents to find the right plan for them.
Overall, Obamacare hasn't gotten off to the roaring start that proponents had hoped to see. The Obamacare Florida experience thus far stands as a stark reminder of the different opinions people have of the Affordable Care Act -- and how those opinions could make the difference in whether Obamacare succeeds, not just in Florida, but nationwide.
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