Op-Ed

Continue to close Americans’ gap in health insurance

TNS

In January, Donald Trump will be sworn in as our next president. At the same time, we will welcome in new and returning legislators at the federal and state levels. With this change, there is promise and opportunity if we all share the same goal of providing access to affordable, high-quality healthcare.

As a solutions-oriented company, Florida Blue complied with the Affordable Care Act (ACA) — Obamacare — because it was the law of the land and because it made healthcare coverage available to many more Floridians.

Today, more than 20 million Americans — almost 2 million in Florida — are able to access healthcare for themselves and their families in the individual health-insurance market. Now we are ready to work with the new administration to identify the funding, benefits and guidelines through which even more Americans are provided the opportunity to obtain healthcare coverage.

While there have been early discussions regarding a replacement to the ACA, we must not overlook the millions of Floridians who are covered in the individual market today, 90 percent of whom receive a federal subsidy.

The goal should not be to limit or reduce the number of insured, but to grow it exponentially. The financial benefit of health insurance is well documented. A recent National Center for Health Statistics study revealed that the number of people who have trouble paying their medical bills has dropped significantly over the past five years. Nevertheless, while the number of uninsured is dropping, those who remain without coverage are more susceptible to home foreclosures, bankruptcies and other financial crises.

Florida Blue’s mission — to help people and communities achieve better health — starts with providing strong healthcare coverage. We have almost 700,000 members in the individual insurance market and, in Florida, interest in healthcare coverage and activity during this open enrollment period remains high.

During the week following the election, Florida Blue saw a 70 percent increase in enrollment submissions compared to the same period last year. Additionally, during the two weeks after the election, more than 26,000 Florida residents visited one of our Florida Blue Centers. Floridians understand the importance and value of having health insurance, and they are taking action to obtain coverage.

As we anticipate the change that will surely take place in the healthcare industry, we look ahead with optimism and extend our hand to federal and local leaders. Together, with a focus on affordable, quality healthcare, we can create great solutions to meet America’s health care challenges.

Pat Geraghty is CEO of GuideWell and Florida Blue.

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