Florida's Health Insurance Progress And Challenges

Sep 19, 2023 at 12:54 pm by Matt

Florida's Health Insurance

Florida’s health insurance progress and challenges. Florida is making gradual strides in the realm of healthcare, as a recent report from the U.S. Census Bureau sheds light on the state's health insurance landscape. The report reveals both progress and areas requiring attention, setting the stage for healthcare issues to take center stage in the upcoming legislative session.

Released on a Thursday, the report shows that Florida’s health insurance improved coverage in 2022, but it still lagged behind most of the nation. In 2022, an estimated 11.2 percent of Floridians lacked insurance, down from 12.1 percent the previous year. This improvement included various sources of insurance, such as employer-based plans, private purchases, and government programs like Medicaid and Medicare.

However, despite the progress, Florida’s health insurance ranked among the bottom states, with only four states reporting higher uninsured rates in 2022: Georgia, Oklahoma, Texas, and Wyoming. Texas, in particular, had the highest uninsured rate at 16.6 percent. Nationally, the uninsured rate dropped to 8 percent in 2022, down from 8.6 percent in 2021.

Florida’s Health Insurance Rates Are Better But Still Lagging

The report underscored a regional pattern, where Southern states tended to grapple with higher uninsured rates compared to their Northeastern counterparts. Nine of the 15 states with uninsured rates above the national average were in the South, ranging from 8.8 percent to 16.6 percent.

Florida's legislative leaders have signaled their intent to prioritize healthcare in the 2024 legislative session, with House Speaker Paul Renner and Senate President Kathleen Passidomo, both Republicans, at the helm. While specific proposals are yet to be unveiled, Speaker Renner has created the House Select Committee on Health Innovation to delve into healthcare access and affordability issues. Senator Passidomo, on the other hand, is exploring increasing healthcare providers to meet the state's growing population's needs. Yet, the question remains whether these efforts will lead to increased insurance coverage, especially given the historical opposition from Republicans, including Senator Passidomo, to expanding Medicaid eligibility.

Medicaid Eligibility Had A Significantly Lower Uninsured Rate

One striking finding from the census report is that states that expanded Medicaid eligibility had a significantly lower uninsured rate in 2022, at 6.3 percent, compared to states that didn't expand eligibility, with an 11.8 percent uninsured rate. Florida falls into the latter category, being one of 12 states that haven't extended eligibility to cover individuals who previously didn't meet qualification requirements.

The report also noted that 17.8 percent of insured individuals in Florida were covered by Medicaid in 2022, a slight decrease from 17.9 percent in 2021. In contrast, the national average for Medicaid coverage stood at 21.2 percent. This difference can partly be attributed to Florida's unique experience during the COVID-19 pandemic, where Medicaid enrollment surged due to federal assistance. However, the end of the public health emergency allowed states to disenroll Medicaid beneficiaries. Florida saw over 400,000 Medicaid beneficiaries lose coverage from April to July, though this decline isn't reflected in the census report's data for 2021 and 2022.

Florida’s Overall Improvement

Florida's health insurance overall improvement in the uninsured rate in 2022 was driven, in part, by an increase in individuals obtaining "direct purchase" private coverage. This type of coverage can be acquired directly from insurers or through the federal health insurance marketplace created under the Affordable Care Act. The percentage of insured Floridians with this coverage rose from 18.4 percent in 2021 to 18.8 percent in 2022. Notably, data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in January revealed that Florida had the highest number of individuals in the country purchasing coverage through the federal marketplace.

While Florida's progress in reducing the uninsured rate is commendable, the state still has work ahead to align with the national average. As lawmakers prepare to tackle healthcare issues, Floridians will closely watch how these initiatives translate into increased access and affordability of healthcare. The ultimate goal is to ensure a healthier future for the state, where comprehensive health insurance coverage is accessible to all.

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