Florida | Summer | 2009 | Health Plan Analysis

The recession severely damaged Florida insurers in 2008 as the ranks of commercially insured members dropped by 1.2 million last year amid layoffs and benefit cuts at Florida businesses. Every significant market took a hit, led by Miami-Dade and the coastal communities that exploded in population this decade. With construction and real estate jobs gone, unemployment statewide has reached 10.6 percent. The uninsured rose by 936,000 last year to reach 3.74 million.. Insurers are responding to the challenging environment by tweaking products and aggressively targeting public employers to serve their workers. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida has expanded its narrow-network product BlueSelect to Broward County as well as communities outside the Tampa region. The carrier also launched an individual and small group product in conjunction with Miami-Dade's local government. Separately, Florida insurers lost a battle in Tallahassee over legislation that would require insurers directly pay out-of-network providers. Under the previous system, insurers would pay the member for provided service and the member would then pay the provider. Carriers said such a system would encourage providers to join networks and hold down overall costs. Providers opposed this delayed payment and successfully lobbied the Legislature and Gov. Charlie Crist to require direct payment. The state's doctors have also stepped up their use of e-prescribing thanks to strong pushes from insurers and extra payments from Medicare. From 2007 to 2008, the total e-prescription transactions increased from 2.2 million to 5.5 million, representing 4 percent of overall prescriptions.