Florida Says No to Health Rebates

J.C. Gayhartt's owned 'Trail and Ski' for 30 years now, making him an expert on everything from jackets to backpacks, and he'd like to think he knows a thing or two about health insurance, too... like how his premiums have been skyrocketing.

The federal health care reform law requires insurance companies that don't pump enough money into patient care to give money back to customers in rebates, but Governor Scott is asking Washington to waive that mandate here in Florida, which would mean patients like J.C. would lose out on that help.

"It's already a struggle with the cost of health care, and if somebody could get a rebate which would reduce the cost, that's a win-win for the consumer, so that to me is not a good idea," he said.

It's a disaster for patients. Before running for governor, Scott ran a high-profile campaign against what he called 'Obamacare'. Consumer advocates complain he's using the power of his office to block $60 million in potential rebates.

The Great Recession may be over, but for millions of Floridians the economic hangover continues. They're still struggling to pay the bills, but so, too, are insurance companies. And that's why they don't want to have to pay out the rebates.

Rebates insurance guru Bob Lotane says the federal law is unfair to many insurance companies, especially when you look at the type of patients they cover.

"Overall, younger people cost less," Lotane said. "They're easier to insure, they don't require as many visits to the doctor and the heavy hospitalization as older patients do, so there's definitely... one size does not fit all."

If anyone can relate to 'one size doesn't fit all', it's J.C., but he doesn't think insurance companies will lose out in this case.

"They'll do fine. It's the people, the individuals, his constituents, those are the people who need the help."

...help that right now, in Florida, is anything but guaranteed.

Paperwork filed by the state's Office of Insurance Regulation shows 340,000 Florida residents could be eligible for the rebates. Most of them don't have access to a group plan and pay for their policies out of pocket.


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