Sunday, May 20, 2018
Health

Due to demand, Florida Health Choices postpones debut yet again

TALLAHASSEE — The folks behind Florida's upcoming state-based health exchange say consumer interest is so overwhelming, they are yet again delaying opening it up for business.

It's not yet possible to buy health plans on the Florida Health Choices site. But Web traffic from people just checking it out has increased tenfold since its chief executive officer announced Feb. 3 that the full launch was "just days away.'' Phone calls have increased, too.

"I frankly was very surprised at the volume of hits that we've had in the last week," CEO Rose Naff said Friday. "It definitely sent a signal to me that we should expect a lot more volume than we originally anticipated."

Naff ordered more testing of the site and its backup systems to make sure it will be able to handle the volume. She said it will be a couple more weeks before it debuts.

Much of the recent interest has been from adults ages 18 to 34, according to Naff's Web traffic analysis. These are the so-called "young invincibles" whose interest in obtaining health coverage is considered essential to the long-term success of the federal health care law.

The federal government is operating an insurance exchange in Florida that offers comprehensive health coverage. However, dental coverage for adults is not among the "essential health benefits" that plans must include.

That is a gap that Florida Health Choices hopes to fill by offering discount and limited benefit plans. Though Health Choices won't offer comprehensive insurance, customers can also shop for prescription drug discount cards or services like Lasik eye surgery.

But it's not clear how helpful the dental plans will be, said the president of the Florida Dental Association.

Dr. Terry Buckenheimer, a general dentist in Tampa, said companies who sell these plans must make sure they have signed on enough dentists to meet the new demand. Dentists often complain that insurance reimbursements fall far short of their actual costs, he said.

"The demand on dentistry is growing, but it's unfortunately not a very well-funded mechanism," Buckenheimer said.

Naff said Florida Health Choices also hopes to attract people who have insurance but want extra coverage, as well as some of the 800,000 Floridians who are in the so-called "coverage gap.'' These people have no health insurance because they make too much to qualify under the state's stingy Medicaid requirements but too little to purchase subsidized insurance on the federal marketplace.

Another reason for the delay: Florida Health Choices wants to avoid the embarrassment the federal government faced at the launch of its insurance marketplace and that the state continues to endure with its troubled unemployment assistance website.

"The first time someone comes to visit needs to go well," Naff said. "That's the kind of user experience that will bring people back."

Contact Tia Mitchell at (850) 224-7263 or [email protected]

Comments
U.S. approves first drug developed to prevent chronic migraines

U.S. approves first drug developed to prevent chronic migraines

TRENTON, N.J. — U.S. regulators Thursday approved the first drug designed to prevent chronic migraines. The Food and Drug Administration’s action clears the monthly shot Aimovig (AIM’-oh-vig) for sale. It’s the first in a new class of long-acting dru...
Published: 05/18/18
Know your blood pressure numbers? Today (May 17) is World Hypertension Day

Know your blood pressure numbers? Today (May 17) is World Hypertension Day

Today (May 17) is World Hypertension Day, and the American Medical Association is encouraging people to monitor their blood pressure levels and get high blood pressure, or hypertension, under control. High blood pressure, sometimes referred to as the...
Published: 05/17/18
Study: Depression in men may lower chances for pregnancy

Study: Depression in men may lower chances for pregnancy

Women having trouble getting pregnant sometimes try yoga, meditation or mindfulness, and some research suggests that psychological stress may affect infertility. But what about men: Does their mental state affect a couple’s ability to conceive?The la...
Published: 05/17/18
Tampa General Hospital named among top 100 in U.S., second best in Florida

Tampa General Hospital named among top 100 in U.S., second best in Florida

TAMPA—Tampa General Hospital was named one of the top 100 hospitals in America for the fifth consecutive year, and second best in Florida, according to one health industry website.Tampa General is considered the best hospital in the Tampa area, accor...
Published: 05/16/18
Joe Redner asks Florida Supreme Court: Let me grow marijuana now

Joe Redner asks Florida Supreme Court: Let me grow marijuana now

Even though a circuit judge has ruled that Tampa strip club owner Joe Redner can grow and juice his own marijuana, he was barred from doing so until the appeals process is finished.So Redner’s lawyers filed a petition with the Florida Supreme Court o...
Published: 05/15/18
Heated chemo is the key as Tampa General doctor tackles ovarian cancer

Heated chemo is the key as Tampa General doctor tackles ovarian cancer

Over the span of three weeks, Brenda Gotlen watched as her abdomen got bigger. Her lower stomach felt bloated."It got to the point that I looked nine months pregnant," said Gotlen, a 62-year-old Seffner resident. She made an appointment to see her pr...
Published: 05/15/18
Some health premiums will go up next year. Which party should we blame this time?

Some health premiums will go up next year. Which party should we blame this time?

As some insurers angle for hefty premium hikes and concerns grow that more Americans will wind up uninsured, the federal health law is likely — once again — to play big in both parties’ strategies for the contentious 2018 election.Candidates are alre...
Published: 05/15/18
Blood donations from the ‘Man with the Golden Arm’ saved millions of babies

Blood donations from the ‘Man with the Golden Arm’ saved millions of babies

When he was 14, James Harrison needed surgery. And as he would come to find out, he would also need a significant amount ofstrangers’ blood to survive it.After he had recovered and as soon as he became an adult, Harrison felt compelled to pay it forw...
Published: 05/14/18
UN health agency aims to wipe out trans fats worldwide

UN health agency aims to wipe out trans fats worldwide

NEW YORK — The World Health Organization has released a plan to help countries wipe out trans fats from the global food supply in the next five years. The United Nations agency has in the past pushed to exterminate infectious diseases, but now it’s a...
Published: 05/14/18
Troubling link found between pollution exposure in pregnancy, high blood pressure in children

Troubling link found between pollution exposure in pregnancy, high blood pressure in children

High blood pressure typically occurs in adulthood, so when children develop the condition, it often means something is very wrong. A child might have kidney disease, hyperthyroidism or a heart problem. Obesity can also be a factor.But what about seem...
Published: 05/14/18