Health Insurance: Available in August for the Self Employed

By: Florida Assoc. of Realtors
By: Florida Assoc. of Realtors

According to the Florida Association website, during August, small-group insurers must offer coverage to self-employed Floridians regardless of health status. It’s a once-per-year offer that ends Aug. 31.

During the open-enrollment period, single-group employers, sole proprietors, independent contractors and others may obtain health insurance or switch plans on a guaranteed-issue basis. The group includes many Realtors.

Some Floridians with pre-existing conditions cannot find an insurance firm willing to offer them health coverage; but if they’re self-employed, they can get group coverage during August that is “guaranteed-issue.” The group insurance is not, however, inexpensive, and can cost as much or more than comparable personal health insurance. Consequently, the group insurance signup period primarily attracts self-employed Floridians who can afford coverage yet have a pre-existing condition.

“I am reaching out to our state’s small business owners, who are the backbone of Florida’s economy, and urging them to take advantage of this open-enrollment period,” says Florida CFO Alex Sink.”

Through August, insurers and Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs) that write small-group policies must offer basic and standard coverage to self-employed Floridians. Policies written or renewed in August have a plan start date of Oct. 1, 2009. Applicants must meet all the conditions established by law, and provide documentation verifying the operation of an active business, including tax forms, license information and business receipts, per Florida Statute 627.6699(3)(u).

A list of small group carriers list is available on the Department of Financial Services’ website at: http://www.myfloridacfo.com/Consumers/Guides/Health/smallGroupMarketCarriers.htm. For plan options, consumers can go to: http://www.floir.com/lh_fr/is_LHFR_Small_Emp_Benefit_Plan.aspx.

In addition to basic and standard policies, coverage options include health savings accounts (HSAs) or health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs). HSAs, which operate like Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs), allow people to save money in a tax-free account for use on health-related expenses. If the money is not spent, it rolls over annually and accumulates until the policyholder reaches age 65, at which time the money can be used for any purpose.

Because the guaranteed group insurance is offered only once per year, some insurance representatives are unfamiliar with it when people call. If you have questions about the Florida rules, call the Department of Financial Services’ Consumer Helpline at (877) 693-5236) or visit www.MyFloridaCFO.com.


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