Special Rule Allows Florida’s One-Person Businesses to Purchase Insurance
Under a "special" agreement between the Florida Department of Insurance and insurers, Florida businesses with a single employee will be able to purchase health insurance next month, the Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel reports. Since 1994, one-person businesses had been able to purchase health insurance, but earlier this year, the state Legislature passed a measure allowing insurers to charge one-person businesses 10% more than other customers. The legislation also limited one- person groups to a one-month open enrollment period in August of each year, with coverage becoming effective Oct. 1. Because the Legislature passed and Gov. Jeb Bush (R) signed three versions of the bill, "there was confusion over whether companies had to continue writing one-person group coverage between the effective date of the new law July 1 and the August 2001 open-enrollment period." Several insurers stopped writing policies, prompting state Insurance Commissioner Bill Nelson to issue an order on July 14 that the companies' refusal to write policies violated the insurance code and was "an immediate serious danger to the public health, safety and welfare." In response to Nelson's order that the insurers write the policies, two trade groups, the Florida Association of Health Maintenance Organizations and the Florida Association of Managed Care Organizations filed an appeal with the First District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee. Last week, the court found in favor of the trade groups. However, under an agreement reached by the state Department of Insurance and 33 insurance companies, one-person business will be allowed to purchase health coverage next month's open-enrollment period. If one-person businesses miss that enrollment, the next open-enrollment period will be Aug. 2001 (McVicar, Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, 11/6).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.