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A Different Plan for Health Care for Florida

August 5, 2009

A Different Plan for Health Care
By Charlie Crist
Governor, State of Florida

With more than 18 million people in Florida, the issue of affordable health care has been a priority of my administration as Governor. We have found that lack of affordable health insurance coverage and the rising cost of prescription medicine to be the most significant health care challenges facing Floridians. Without health insurance coverage, the cost of health care can be staggering. Some fall into bankruptcy due to their inability to pay.

To address these problems, we have instituted two programs in Florida. Our Cover Florida Health Care program and the Florida Discount Drug Card were created by partnering with the private sector, and importantly, without using mandates or taxpayer dollars.

The Florida Discount Drug Card provides relief to Floridians struggling with prescription medicine costs. The State of Florida contracts with a private company to negotiate discounted drug costs for participating pharmacies who have agreed to pass the savings along to consumers. Savings vary depending on the quantity, type and brand of the drug purchased. Since we launched the program in December 2007, nearly 100,000 Floridians have signed up to receive discounts on their prescriptions. Floridians have saved more than $3.5 million on over 220,000 prescriptions.

Cover Florida Health Care works through similar private sector negotiations and partnerships. Approved by the 2008 Florida Legislature, we conducted a rigorous, open and competitive bidding process. Careful negotiations ensured the most robust benefits possible, as well as a financially sound product for the providers.

Since the plans have been available in January, more than 3,700 Floridians have purchased Cover Florida Health Care plans. I have had the opportunity to meet some of these newly insured Floridians. They include small business owners who can now offer health care benefits to their employees and temporarily unemployed individuals. Cover Florida Health Care gives them all peace of mind and saves them hundreds of dollars on health care costs every month.

Cover Florida benefits include preventive services and office visits, as well as office surgery, urgent care, prescription drugs, durable medical equipment, and diabetic supplies. Every Floridian can choose between at least two insurers, and residents of four counties have additional options. Each of the six insurers offers at least two plans – a preventive care plan and a catastrophic care plan that includes hospital coverage. While costs vary, depending on age, gender and choice of plan, 80 percent of those purchasing Cover Florida plans have chosen the more robust, catastrophic plans.

Cover Florida offers a wide variety of affordable options, including coverage for as little as $24 a month. The best-selling plan averages $148 a month, which is 265 percent less than the national average premium. Each person decides which plan works best – for health reasons and for financial reasons. In addition, Cover Florida plans have a wide range of deductibles, most under $500 a year. Compare this cost to the $2,000 annual deductible that 59 percent of American families are paying today. Coverage is guaranteed if you have pre-existing health conditions, and four of the six companies cover children under age 19.

While the growing national discussion on health care increasingly sounds like an all-or-nothing debate, I believe what we are doing in Florida to increase access to affordable health care is a model worth examining. We have found that by working with the private sector, we can increase health care choices without increasing taxes or the size of government. Admittedly, we are at the beginning of this process. But we are off to a good start.

You can learn more about what Florida is doing by visiting and

Receive Regular E-mail Updates from Governor Crist

I would like to keep you informed about actions my administration is taking on a variety of issues, if you are interested. I invite you to click the link below and select the issues you want to learn more about. Feel free to select as many topics as you like.

Thank you and God bless. It is a privilege and honor to serve you as Governor.

To receive Governor Crist's weekly newsletter, "Notes from the Capitol," please visit and click on "Subscribe to Notes from the Capitol."

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