Options for Coverage in Florida

Affordable Health Insurance isn’t just a Florida issue, it’s on everyone’s mind these days — and with good reason. Over the past few decades, the United States has enjoyed the benefits of the latest medical advances. However, with the increase in medical knowledge and technology, there has also been a dramatic increase in healthcare and health insurance costs.

For example, research from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation shows that average health insurance premiums for family coverage have increased nearly threefold in recent years, from an average of about $5,800 a year in 1999 to roughly $15,000 a year in 2011. Average coverage costs for single individuals have doubled over the same period, from $2,200 to $5,400. An increase in the number of uninsured Americans goes hand in hand with the increase in average health insurance costs. The U.S. Census Bureau, for instance, estimates that the number of Americans without health insurance increased from roughly 3 million people to 4 million people from 2008–2009. This is particularly worrying because the total population grew by less than 3 million people during the same time frame. In other words, there was a net decrease in the number of Americans insured of more than 1 million people.

Although Congress has been attempting to fix this problem and help all Americans gain access to health insurance and healthcare, it is as yet unclear whether the proposed solutions will work or even be enforced. If you cannot afford insurance today, however, Congressional action is not doing much for you right now. You need to get coverage and access to affordable healthcare for your family immediately, and you do not want to wait several more years for help.

Fortunately, there are several current options to help low-income Florida families gain access to healthcare and health insurance at a price they can afford. We have put together this resource to help you find health insurance plans that will not force you into bankruptcy.

Government-Sponsored Insurance Options

U.S. Federal Health Centers
Access to affordable primary care is the best way to prevent illnesses and conditions that will cost more money to treat in the long run if they are not caught early on. Although U.S. Federal Health Centers are not insurance programs per se, they do offer primary medical and dental care to people regardless of whether they have insurance. Your income level determines the amount that you pay for service, and most people can find a center close to where they live.

Care at federal health centers includes:

• basic medical checkups
• pregnancy care
• dental care services
• mental health care
• prescription drugs
• pediatric care for children, including immunizations
• substance abuse treatment
• fees for services based on a sliding scale according to income

Federal Children’s Coverage
The federal government has recently developed a plan to make sure that all children in the country have access to healthcare. Through Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), children who are U.S. citizens or legal immigrants can access basic healthcare either at no cost or at a greatly reduced cost. Families of four with an income of up to $44,100 a year usually qualify for children’s coverage through the CHIP program.

The Medicaid/CHIP programs provide benefits such as:

• immunizations
• vision care
• dental care
• prescription drugs
• emergency room visits and hospital care
• doctor visits
• hearing care

Although CHIP is a federal program, it is administered through each state, which designs its own program for children’s healthcare. In Florida, low-income families gain access to this medical care through various programs available through KidCare. These programs which are described below.

State Children’s Insurance in Florida: Florida KidCare
Florida KidCare is the umbrella children’s insurance program under which several different insurance and healthcare programs for children from low-income families are administered. Eligible children may qualify for several different programs that provide coverage and services such as:

• doctor visits and check-ups
• hospital visits, surgery and emergency room care
• prescriptions and immunizations
• vision, hearing, mental and dental health care

An important part of KidCare is the Florida MediKids program. It is designed to provide low-cost health care for children ages 1 to 4. Insurance premiums are as low as $15 a month for low-income families, but families with larger incomes can also qualify for coverage with premiums that cost up to $200 or so a month. Children receive care through Medicaid health care providers.

Children with special and chronic physical or behavioral conditions can receive coverage through the National Eye Institute.

We Are Here to Help You
This page of low-cost healthcare and health insurance options is just part of the many healthcare resources we have available on this site. Take a look at our other pages of resources and tips for more assistance in making healthcare more affordable for you and your family in Florida.