Beginning October 1, 2013, millions of Floridians who are uninsured — or who are insured but have inadequate or unaffordable coverage — will be able to purchase a health plan through the new Health Insurance Marketplace established by the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA).
Although Congress passed the ACA in 2010, almost three and a half years will have elapsed by the time Floridians are able to access this Marketplace (sometimes referred to by its former designation, the Exchange). An extended initial “open enrollment” period will run through March 31, 2014, but coverage can take effect as early as January 1, along with numerous new consumer protections that will apply to that coverage.
Although a number of details remain unclear about Florida’s Marketplace and the specific plan offerings to be made available to consumers there, the bottom line is that many more Floridians will be able to get and keep quality, affordable health insurance coverage than ever before.
This is particularly the case for low- and middle-income Floridians, many of whom can qualify for federal subsidies that lower premiums and out-of-pocket costs, but also for those with pre-existing medical conditions or who have lost access to coverage through an employer. However, despite the scope of this coverage expansion, the Florida Legislature’s decision not to implement another key ACA initiative – the expansion of Medicaid – leaves uninsured Floridians below the poverty line without access to coverage.
This brief aims to shed some light on these new coverage opportunities and challenges, and to illustrate the impact on consumers.