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Florida Health Choices Eyes New Vendor In Hopes Of Boosting Low Enrollment

Florida Health Choices launched in March 2014 and had only attracted 34 people by September.
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
Florida Health Choices launched in March 2014 and had only attracted 34 people by September.
The Florida Channel
Florida Health Choices launched in March 2014 and had only attracted 34 people by September.

Florida’s health insurance marketplace debuted earlier this year but so far, less than forty people have signed up. Now the board that runs the program is looking to attract health insurance providers, and to do that, it’s turning to a new company to help it expand its services.

Florida Health Choices is run by the state, and sells discount medical cards for services. Since becoming operational in March, Health Choices has signed up fewer than forty people. Health Choices CEO Rose Naff says her group is looking to a new vendor in the hope of attracting health insurance companies to participate.

“It’s a chicken and egg thing," Naff says. "They [insurance companies]  want to know who’s technology their products are going to rest on. But we can’t build the marketplace until we know whose products will be on the shelving.”

The Florida Health Choices Board approved hiring a new vendor called bswift. It’s also trying to better market itself to potential customers. Florida Health Choices is sandwiched between the state’s Healthy Kids program for low-income children and the federal government’s health insurance marketplace, making it harder to attract attention in a crowded field of sites offering similar services.

The program is still in its infancy and Naff isn’t abandoning the goal of getting more people to sign up.

Just in the last week we’ve had a 12 percent increase in enrollment. So it’s already started.”

That's an increase of four people. Florida Health Choices hasn’t done much advertising but Naff says it’s now looking at how to get more out of the way people search online. She hopes a new way of branding online will get the word out about the program.

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Lynn Hatter is a Florida A&M University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Lynn has served as reporter/producer for WFSU since 2007 with education and health care issues as her key coverage areas. She is an award-winning member of the Capital Press Corps and has participated in the NPR Kaiser Health News Reporting Partnership and NPR Education Initiative. When she’s not working, Lynn spends her time watching sci-fi and action movies, writing her own books, going on long walks through the woods, traveling and exploring antique stores. Follow Lynn Hatter on Twitter: @HatterLynn.