Ten Florida health insurers have filed documents indicating they want to compete for shoppers on the Affordable Care Act marketplace when it opens Oct. 1, state records indicate. However, it is not clear whether all of them will follow through or receive federal approval.
The list has not been released by the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR) nor the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
But Greg Mellowe, research director for the consumer advocacy group Florida CHAIN, was able to patch together the list by searching the OIR database. He looked for plans that were designated as "Qualified Health Plans" that meet the requirements of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
On Oct. 1, plans that receive federal approval will be open to Florida shoppers on a federally run marketplace akin to Expedia's online service to book travel. The plans would be in effect as of Jan. 1, 2014.
"This is good news for consumers," Mellowe wrote in an email. "The fact that so many insurance companies have positioned themselves to compete in the marketplace suggests that there will be lots of affordable, quality plan options available to Floridians."
And he noted: "That’s the opposite of what critics had been predicting."
Mellowe shared a copy of a letter that he found on the OIR database from Aetna to HHS that says the company is applying for Qualified Health Plan Certification for the federal exchange. The letter asks that HHS treat its application materials as confidential, not to be released under the Freedom of Information Act.
Health News Florida was able to get confirmation from another large company on the list.
"Humana intends to participate on Florida’s federally run public health insurance exchange for individuals," wrote spokesman Mitch Lubitz in an email. "We’re continuing to work to prepare for implementation of the new program on Jan. 1, 2014."
Assuming HHS approves Humana's application, the company will offer a plethora of choices in the individual market under two Florida subsidiaries. Humana Health Insurance Co. of Florida Inc. will have five, while Humana Medical Plan Inc. will offer four HMOs.
Information on the plans -- deductibles, co-pays, premiums, etc. -- has not been made available and won't be until the end of the summer, a spokesman for HHS said.
The other Florida companies that filed as "Qualified Health Plans" under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, as identified by the Florida CHAIN researcher, are:
--Aetna Life Insurance Co.
--Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Florida Inc.
--Cigna Health & Life Insurance Co.
--Coventry Health Care of Florida Inc.
--Florida Health Care Plan Inc..
--Health Options Inc.
--Molina Healthcare of Florida Inc.
--Simply Healthcare Plans Inc.
--Sunshine State Health Plan Inc.
Coventry, Florida Health Care Plan, Health Options, Molina, Simply Healthcare and Sunshine State will be HMO plans, in addition to the four that Humana plans to offer, according to the filings. The others will be insured plans, likely PPOs (preferred provider plans) or some other type of networked arrangement.
Three of the plans are affiliated with the state's largest insurer, Florida Blue. They are plans listed under these names: Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Florida Inc., Florida Health Care Plan, and Health Options.
On Thursday, as The New York Times reported, the Obama administration announced that there would be a good selection of plans from which consumers could choose. Unnamed officials said 120 plans have filed for the marketplace, and most states will have at least five plans competing for business.
“The majority of states will have new health insurance choices that are not available today,” the administration said in a memorandum that offers a glimpse, but few details. In about three-fourths of states with exchanges run by the federal government, it said, “at least one new insurance company intends to enter the market.”
Under the health law, states could choose whether to create their own shopping exchange, leave it to the federal government, or do it as a partnership. HHS says 17 states will run their own marketplace, while HHS will run it in 19 state, including Florida. Fifteen states opted for a partnership arrangement.