Florida Faces Health Insurance Crisis as Population Spikes

0
7

Florida’s population spike has pulled the state into a health insurance crisis as it grapples with a homeowners insurance crisis.

The state is home to 22.6 million people, pressuring the health care industry with an aging population that has evolving health care needs.

Between 2010 and 2022, Florida’s population spiked by 18 percent, with adults age 60 to 69 forming the largest group of new residents. The population is expected to grow by nearly 300,000 annually over the next five years.

One of the critical challenges in Florida’s health insurance sector is the high cost of premiums. The state’s insurance market is dominated by a few major insurers, which limits competition and keeps prices high. Additionally, Florida’s large senior population, prone to chronic health conditions, further drives up insurance costs for all age groups.

A Publix supermarket pharmacy manager retrieves a bottle of antibiotics from the shelf in Miami. Florida has experienced a significant population boom, leading to a health insurance crisis in the state.

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

“Medical costs have typically outpaced general inflation, and I don’t see that changing substantially in the near term, despite periodic fluctuations,” InsuranceQuotes.com analyst Michael Giusti told Newsweek. “Competition among insurers does help with costs, but the bigger driver of costs is the underlying cost of care, which for seniors tends to be the highest among the different age groups.”

The average cost of health insurance premiums in the state is expected to rise this year to $613 per month from $599 per month in 2023, from $7,188 a year in 2023 to $7,356 in 2024, according to data from ValuePenguin. The average American can expect to pay $7,008 in health insurance premiums in 2024, data shows.

The population increase has intensified the demand for health care services, especially in areas like mental health. The state has seen a rise in mental health issues, with 12.3 percent of adults reporting poor mental health in 2020, up from 9.7 percent in 2007.

In response, Florida is expanding its mental health care infrastructure. Efforts include establishing more clinics, particularly in underserved regions, and leveraging telehealth to improve access. Telehealth has become a vital tool in delivering mental health services, especially in remote areas, overcoming barriers like transportation and limited local resources.

An initiative from a state coalition is looking to put Medicaid expansion on the state ballot in 2026. The move would expand Medicaid to millions of residents who don’t presently qualify for the program. Currently, only pregnant women and parents with minor children qualify, and the income requirements are strict. Individuals must make less than $12,828 per year and a couple filing jointly must make less than $17,352 per year.

The coalition, Florida Decides Healthcare, wants to bring Medicaid expansion before voters in 2026.

“With more 1.4 million Floridians missing out on essential care that this expansion would provide, the need to bring this policy across the finish line has never been greater,” Jake Flaherty, campaign manager for Florida Decides Healthcare, said in a press conference kicking off the group’s petition circulation efforts.

The amendment that Florida Decides Healthcare is proposing would expand Medicaid to eligible adults making at or below 138 percent of the federal poverty line. For 2024, that would be $20,782 for individuals and $35,631 for a family of three, Flaherty said.

As Florida continues to grow, balancing the expansion of health care services with quality and sustainability is increasingly vital, experts said. As Medicare could potentially become insolvent by 2028, the need to solve the ongoing insurance crisis has become exacerbated, Giusti said.

“This problem stands to only get worse,” Giusti said. “If politicians push back the eligibility age, those high costs of care are going to be felt even more by the market as a whole, and premiums stand to continue to go up.”

Are you a Floridian experiencing difficulty affording health insurance? Newsweek wants to hear from you. Contact us at [email protected].