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A Times Editorial

Not a jewel, but a step in the right direction

A law allowing the sale of bare-bones health care policies to uninsured Floridians is a positive step but far from a "crown jewel," as Gov. Charlie Crist called the legislation after signing it into law last week.

The well-intentioned legislation would allow private health insurance companies to offer stripped-down plans costing about $150 a month. They would cover only the most basic services, such as doctor's office visits, surgery, urgent care and prescriptions. Current plans must offer more than 50 services, driving up the cost.

Some insurance is much better than no insurance, but a true jewel would provide a low-cost plan for chronic or catastrophic illness. It is not known how much extra it will cost to cover such basics as extended hospital stays, cancer treatment, dental care and vision care.

Small businesses looking to insure their employees through the program will also have to go through a public-private corporation setup at the behest of House Speaker Marco Rubio. Though the organization is supposed to negotiate cheaper rates for small business groups, it could turn into a bureaucratic middleman that only slows the system.

Private companies' indication that they will be able to sell $150-a-month policies to all interested residents is encouraging. Crist's program is at least a step in the right direction until the federal government comes up with a viable plan for universal health coverage for all.

Not a jewel, but a step in the right direction 05/27/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 28, 2008 10:38am]
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