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Florida grapples with ObamaCare impact as rates projected to rise

Sen. Mitch McConnell's office provided this photo of ObamaCare regulations so far. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act commonly called ObamaCare will impact health insurance for every individual in the Sunshine State and at present, the outlook is cloudy.

Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty talked with The Palm Beach Post. For many Floridians, health insurance costs will rise:

"Health insurance rates in Florida will rise by 5 to 20 percent in the small-group market, and 30 to 40 percent in the individual market, as the Affordable Care Act’s guaranteed coverage rule takes effect next year."

People in large groups, said McCarty, would see a “negligible” impact.

Anyone who read the ObamaCare bill knew the legislation would be more troubling for small businesses and for the self-employed than for large corporations.

However, in Florida, there’s another development that will have an as yet undetermined impact on rates.

Florida Blue has applied to reorganize so the company theoretically could sell stock to third parties. How the stock sale would impact premiums is really anyone’s guess at this point because the corporation has been not-for-profit in the past and as a result has been tax exempt for 70 years.

Under the not-for-profit structure, The Palm Beach Post said:

Jacksonville-based Florida Blue paid at least 14 officers and directors more than $1 million each in 2012, with more than half of those receiving a raise of at least $500,000 from 2011.

The CEO made $6.8 million.

The ObamaCare bill has already drawn controversy outside of Florida, with Democrats and even the president pushing repeal or suspension of certain provisions and giving waivers to some sectors that lobbied aggressively for passage of the bill.

In Florida, the impact on young workers is hard to gauge. According to the 2008 Census, Florida has the five congressional districts with the most Social Security recipients in the nation. With approximately 17 percent of the state’s residents older than 65 years, rates for coverage that includes mandates for every player in the insurance game, from consumer to CEO, are impossible to determine at present.

Rates for Medicare enrollees will be impacted because of supplemental policies many retirees choose to purchase. Thus ObamaCare may deliver an unpleasant surprise to retirees as well because ObamaCare contains cuts for those policies.

Obama’s Health and Human Services agency has pretty much done whatever it wants with the ObamaCare bill, from those waivers to regulations enabled by a law most Democrats who voted for it did not read.

For many of us the healthcare bill doesn’t look very much like reform despite the main perk to consumers—the insurance company can’t deny coverage because of preexisting conditions. That perk and the few others could have been addressed via simple regulation and a broadening of free market principles.

Instead, Democrats chose to make the healthcare market more complex just as the party did with housing over past decades.

No one really knows the long term costs of the bill either. Government reports have indicated discretionary spending couldn’t be gauged accurately.

Read more about ObamaCare in archives at The US Report.

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(Commentary by Kay B. Day/July 30, 2013)


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