Florida Blue

A group of physicians in the Tampa Bay is working with insurance companies to keep patients healthy and out of hospitals, reports the Tampa Bay Times.

Florida Blue

The insurance company Florida Blue says its rate increases were published too soon on the Obamacare website.

The numbers that were briefly available showed as much as an 11 percent price increase on some plans.

Charles Elmore of the Palm Beach Post first saw the numbers when he was surfing the HealthCare.gov website.

Lottie Watts / WUSF

The latest numbers from federal health officials show Florida is continuing to lead in enrollment on HealthCare.gov, with nearly 600,000 who have signed up so far.

Florida Blue is introducing hybrid plans into Florida’s Affordable Care Act marketplace. They  could give consumers both more and fewer choices in providers.

Sacred Heart Health System and Florida Blue approved a new contract that will give members access to the hospital system’s services for the next three years, the Northwest Florida Daily News reports.

The Panhandle-area hospitals owned by Ascension Health Care sent letters to customers saying they had been unable to reach an agreement with Florida Blue and could part ways by July 1, according to the Daily News.

Add Florida Blue to the list of insurers notifying policyholders they are near a negotiation deadline with a Florida hospital system.

The Northwest Florida Daily News reports that the contract between Jacksonville-based insurance company and Sacred Heart Hospital of Pensacola ends June 30. Both parties told the Daily News they are optimistic an agreement can be reached by the deadline.

Florida Hospital

Florida Blue and one of the state’s largest hospital systems have approved a new contract, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

Thousands of patients at Florida Hospital avoided the risk of paying out-of-network costs for service, the Sentinel reports.

The hospital chain had faced a May 31 deadline on its contract with the Jacksonville-based insurance company. 

FL Blue: Steps Keep Quality, Costs In Check

Mar 29, 2015

A subject that is receiving attention from Florida Legislators this session relates to the use of pharmaceuticals and how those prescription drugs are provided to patients.

A topic of particular interest is step therapy, where patients are prescribed historically proven drugs that are both medically effective and cost effective before “stepping up” to more expensive drugs (sometimes name brands).

Florida Hospital

The state’s largest insurer and a major hospital system have failed to find agreement in a contract set to expire June 1, the Orlando Sentinel reports (paywall alert).

 The state’s largest health insurer, Florida Blue, will be eliminating 150 jobs this week, the Palm Beach Post reports. That’s between one and two percent of the company’s workforce of nearly 11,000 employees. According to the Post, company officials didn't say what departments or regions will  be affected.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

From a tailgating party with Gator fans in Gainesville to a beer festival in Pensacola, Floridians had plenty of opportunities Saturday to get in-person help signing up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. And as the second year of enrollment kicks off, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell is making a swing through Florida today to help get the word out.  

Burwell will make a stop in Tampa Monday morning at the Navigation Lab at the University of South Florida; she will be in Miami this afternoon.

HealthSpot

There was a time when you got sick, you waited to see the family physician.

But then came the "Doc In A Box" clinics, where you went without an appointment, at night and on weekends. And it only got easier when mini-clinics began popping up in neighborhood pharmacies.

Well, these convenient medical visits are taking the next step. Clinic "kiosks" will soon be connecting Floridians and physicians via video screens and interactive tools.

Federal officials are recognizing health insurer Florida Blue for its significant improvements in addressing the childhood obesity epidemic.

Earlier this week, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Department of Agriculture awarded the Florida Blue Foundation at a ceremony in Cleveland.

Got Insurance? You Still May Pay A Steep Price For Prescriptions

Oct 13, 2014

Sandra Grooms recently got a call from her oncologist’s office. The chemotherapy drugs he wanted to use on her metastatic breast cancer were covered by her health plan, with one catch: Her share of the cost would be $976 for each 14-day supply of the two pills.

“I said, ‘I can’t afford it,’” said Grooms, 52, who is insured through her job as a general manager at a janitorial supply company in Augusta, Ga. “I was very upset.”

Just in time for Medicare's open enrollment season, a Florida-based HMO has won the federal government's coveted  five-star rating, a rare honor that brings more than bragging rights. Such plans receive the freedom to enroll new members all year long. 

The winner, CarePlus Health Plans Inc., is a subsidiary of Humana Inc., Florida's largest Medicare vendor. Humana did well in the quality ratings, too,  but was outscored by the little plan it bought in 2005.

The parent company of Florida Blue is teaming with a major Latin American health business to open three primary-care clinics in Miami-Dade County next year, the Miami Herald reports.

Kaiser Health News

Any doubt that Florida’s largest health insurer wants to expand its reach was quashed by its chief executive Wednesday, when he heralded the success of its new umbrella company and outlined ambitious plans for growth.

GuideWell, launched as a parent of Florida Blue, reaches more than 15 million people through its insurance, consumer, health care and government administration products, Chairman and CEO Pat Geraghty told participants at the Medifuture conference in Tampa.

Less than half are traditional Florida Blue policy holders.

The retirement of Florida Blue’s longtime lobbyist is generating accolades from everyone from Gov. Rick Scott to advocates for disabled children, the Florida Times-Union reports.

 Just seven of the 91 entrepreneurs that pitched a health care startup are getting a boost from Healthbox Tampa, a business incubator that provides seed money, office space and partnerships with health care providers, the Tampa Bay Times reports.

FL Blue Premiums Up Nearly 18 Percent

Aug 1, 2014

Florida Blue, the state’s largest health insurer, is increasing premiums by an average of 17.6 percent for its Affordable Care Act exchange plans next year, company officials say.

The nonprofit Blue Cross and Blue Shield affiliate blames higher health costs as a result of attracting older adults this year who previously lacked coverage and are using more services than expected.

Florida insurance regulators plan to release rate information for all companies next week. The exchange plans cover individuals who aren’t covered by employer-based policies.

Insurers: 2015 Exchange Rates Could Spike

Jul 31, 2014

State insurance officials are preparing to release figures next week on how much health plans will cost under the Affordable Care Act for 2015, and rate increases seem inevitable as insurers say their new consumers are older and sicker than anticipated.

FL Blue Signals Rate Hikes Ahead

Jul 21, 2014
Kaiser Health News

Florida Blue, the state’s dominant health insurer, snagged more than one in three consumers on the health law’s exchange this year, but many could face rate hikes as the carrier struggles with an influx of older and sicker enrollees, said the company’s top executive.

Several factors could drive up rates next year — including a paucity of younger and healthy enrollees and a greater-than-expected surge in people seeking expensive health services, CEO Patrick Geraghty said in an interview.

Profits for Florida’s HMOs dropped sharply in 2013, with a nearly 31 percent reduction in combined profits, according to the South Florida Business Journal. The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation reported profits at $933.8 million in 2012 and $648 million in 2013.

Update: Late Tuesday, the state Office of Insurance Regulation said information posted about 2015 individual market health insurance rates was incorrect and has been taken off its website. See more.

Something unprecedented may be unfolding in Florida's individual health-insurance market: None of the nine companies that have filed their 2015 rate requests so far wants an increase.

The arrival of insurer-owner emergency centers is catching the attention among those in the hospital industry.

Florida Blue is preparing to open its third GuideWell Health emergency care center in Winter Park, joining other facilities in Largo and Tallahassee, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

Twelve teams of students from eight Florida universities recently faced off at the Second Annual State of Florida Healthcare Innovation Competition to determine whose medical technology reigned supreme -- and the winners walked away with $10,000.

"The competition brings together collegiate healthcare innovators from across the state, and allows them an opportunity to pitch their innovation ideas, concepts, and products before a panel of qualified judges," said Dr. Michael Fountain, director for event co-sponsor, the University of South Florida Center for Entrepreneurship. "In addition to winning cash prizes, these innovations gain insight from these world-class experts to help them move their technologies forward."

A wide variety of products and ideas was pitched, from a Google Glass application for people with cognitive and physical disabilities to a grocery store chain that sells healthy food in low-income neighborhoods.

"I think it speaks, very clearly, to the breadth of what can be done in healthcare innovation, whether it starts out with an application all the way to a small molecule," Fountain added.


Gov. Rick Scott is not backing down from a pair of campaign ads that state 300,000 Floridians lost their Florida Blue health insurance because of the Affordable Care Act, the Miami Herald reports. The ads attack Scott’s presumed opponent, Charlie Crist, for his support of the federal health law, and use a claim about the Floridians losing insurance that was rated “Mostly False” by PolitiFact.

Florida Blue has appointed Dr. René Lerer as president of the state’s largest insurer.

Lerer's will also be president of the GuideWell group. He will report to CEO Pat Geraghty.

Lerer was previously the chairman and CEO of Magellan Health Services. Magellan is a leading national health care management organization or HMO. Earlier in his career he co-founded Internet HealthCare Group, a health care technology venture fund.

He holds a medical degree from the State University of New York at Buffalo and is board-certified in internal medicine.

A new drug hailed as a breakthrough against hepatitis C comes at a price that  puts treatment out of reach for most who need the medication -- $84,000 for a standard 12-week course of Sovaldi, manufactured by Gilead Sciences.

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