Paul Kluding, a spokesman for Florida Blue, issued a statement in response to the Herald’s questions about how many individuals had successfully enrolled for subsidized plans with the insurer using the federal exchange.
“Florida Blue has received an initial batch of insurance applications through the marketplace,’’ Kluding said. “Each application must be verified, and that process is underway. The marketplace is open and the application process is functioning. Meantime, Florida Blue is working with the federal government on technical aspects that will expedite and improve the process for consumers.’’
It’s unclear what “technical aspects,’’ Kluding was referring to, but one way in which private insurers and the federal government will need to communicate will be to transfer payments for premium subsidies, which will be paid directly by the government to the insurer without ever touching consumers’ hands.
Cigna’s Smithberger said the insurer had tempered expectations for the system during the first few weeks of enrollment, which runs through March 31. For coverage to begin on Jan. 1, though, consumers must purchase a plan by Dec. 15.
“We did not expect everything to happen smoothly. This is a very big lift for the entire industry,’’ said Smithberger, who confirmed that Cigna had received applications from Florida consumers using the federal exchange.
“I’d characterize it as a trickle,’’ he said of the enrollment numbers, “rather than a wave.’’
Insurers such as Cigna said they will need time to assess the products they’ve created for South Florida.
“This is such a new market,’’ Smithberger said, “that we have theories of what we think people will purchase, but it’s going to be several months before we see if that becomes a reality.’’