Health Reform in Florida

Health reform has passed both the House of Representatives and the Senate. However, there are differences between the Senate version of the bill and the House version of the bill. Both chambers will elect members to convene a conference to reconcile differences between the two versions of the bill. The new version of the bill that emerges from the conference must then be voted on again by each chamber. If the bill is approved by both chambers, the president may sign the final version turning it into law.

To answer how the bill will affect Floridians, the government web site, has listed several elements from both bills that benefit individuals and families in Florida, such as:

  • Insurance companies will no longer be able to place lifetime limits on the coverage they provide, use of annual limits will be restricted, and they will not be able to arbitrarily drop coverage.
  • 10 percent of people in Florida have diabetes, and 28 percent have high blood pressure � two conditions that insurance companies could use as a reason to deny health insurance coverage. Reform will establish a high-risk pool to enable people who cannot get insurance today to find an affordable health plan.
  • Roughly 565,000 Medicare beneficiaries in Florida hit the �doughnut hole,� or gap in Medicare Part D drug coverage that can cost some seniors an average of $4,080 per year. Reform legislation will provide a 50 percent discount for brand-name drugs in this coverage gap.
  • Without reform, individuals and families in Florida will spend increasing amounts of money out-of-pocket to cover premiums, deductibles, and co-payments, from $19.4 billion today to up to $35.4 billion in 2019. Through health insurance reform, 2.5 million Florida residents could be eligible for premium credits to ease the burden of these high costs.
  • Health insurance reform will create a new voluntary long-term care services insurance program, which will provide a cash benefit to help seniors and people with disabilities obtain services and supports that will enable them to remain in their homes and communities.
Since both versions of the bill have yet to be reconciled, some of these elements may increase or decrease.  To see the full list for Florida, visit the site, here.

Below is a message about health reform from the Secretary of Health & Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius.

Medicaid Office Locator

Do you have questions about Medicaid in Florida such as:
  • How do I apply for it?
  • What's covered?
  • Am I eligible?
  • What's the status of application?
While some of these questions can be answered online, you may still feel the need to speak to someone about Florida Medicaid.  The Florida Agency on Health Care Administration has launched a web page HERE to assist people find their local Medicaid offices.  Once on the page, you can either select your county area by using the map of Florida or choosing the name of the county on the left hand side.  Either selection will bring up a new window with contact information of your local Medicaid office.

Prescription Drug Price Comparison Tool

The cost of medical prescriptions can be expensive. The Florida office of the Attorney General & the Agency for Health Care Administration have launched a website HERE, to help Florida citizens afford their medical prescriptions.  The site called, "Florida Drug Prescription Prices" over a series of pull-down menus which will allow to select the county, city, and prescriptions you're looking for.  After you've made your selections, a list will appear showing stores/pharmacies offering your prescription dosage.  The list is ordered by the cost of the prescription.

Also on the site, is public announcement with lists of $4.00 generic prescriptions offered at different pharmacies.  Those links are HERE and HERE.

Available on this blog (in the bottom right corner) are two lists with links to prescription drug discount programs.

Help With Medicare Assistance

Are you currently enrolled in Medicare and need some assistance?

The Social Security Administration may be able to assist you.  They offer a program to help individuals who enrolled in Medicare with their costs.  This program is not a replacement for enrolling in a Medicare Part D drug program.  If you're eligible, you can get extra help to pay for the monthly premiums, annual deductibles, and co-payments related to the Medicare Prescription Drug program. However, you must be enrolled in a Medicare Prescription Drug plan to get this extra help.

The guidelines for eligibility and the application are located HERE as well as contact information for any questions you may have.  To see if you're eligible, go HERE.

SafeLink Wireless - Free Cell Phones

Do you or a loved one have a medical condition that may require immediate medical assistance but don't possess a phone?  There may be a solution for you.

SafeLink Wireless is a government supported program that provides a free cell phone and airtime each month to income eligible customers.

To Qualify:
The process to qualify depends on the State you live in. In general, you may qualify if...You already participate in another State or Federal assistance program such as Federal Public Housing Assistance, Food Stamps, and Medicaid.  Or your total household income is at or below 135% of the poverty guidelines set by your State and/or the Federal Government. And no one in your household currently receives service from another phone carrier. And you have a valid United States Postal Address. In order to receive your free phone you must live at a residence that can receive mail from the US Post Office. Sorry, but P.O. Boxes cannot be accepted.  In addition to meeting the guidelines above you will also be required to provide proof of your participation in an assistance program, or proof of your income level.

You can enroll online at . To apply you will need your address and social security number. If you exceed the free airtime (68 minutes in Florida), you can purchase additional minutes.

SAFELINK WIRELESS� service is a U.S. government supported program for income eligible households provided by TracFone Wireless, Inc. TracFone Wireless is America�s largest and number one prepaid cell phone provider in the U.S.