Miami-Dade Blue pilot healthcare program proves to be successful

Miami-Dade County has agreed to extend the Miami-Dade Blue health insurance program, a three-year pilot program that was set to end July 1.

The unique program, co-designed by BlueCross BlueShield of Florida Inc. (BCBSF) and the Office of Countywide Healthcare Planning (OCHP) under commission chair Joe A. Martinez’s leadership, has given residents and small business owners the opportunity to purchase health insurance with affordable monthly payments. The program has been extended for 180 days while a new Request for Proposals (RFP) is completed.

Miami-Dade Blue, a low-cost comprehensive healthcare plan, was created in 2009 to provide an option for the 600,000 uninsured local residents who were struggling with the high cost of medical insurance, but ineligible for government assistance. Small businesses of up to 50 employees also are eligible for the plan at a reasonable rate. Martinez spearheaded the public-private program, which was the first of its kind in the country.

As of May of this year, more than 10,000 residents are enrolled in Miami-Dade Blue and other products based on the benefit design of Miami-Dade Blue. Since the program was introduced, two-thirds of the applicants have been approved for enrollment; 65 percent of these applicants were not insured at the time they applied for Miami-Dade Blue. Enrollees also are using Miami-Dade Blue to seek more preventative care. In May 36 percent of Miami- Dade Blue claims were for care provided in primary care settings.

“Miami-Dade Blue has been incredibly successful in helping residents make their health a priority,” Martinez said. “No one should have to debate whether they should see a doctor because they can’t afford to. I look forward to working with both OCHP and BlueCross BlueShield of Florida to continue this program and help even more residents with additional enhanced benefits.”

Miami-Dade County currently is working on a new RFP, which will expand its collaborative relationships to more insurers and provide greater opportunities to educate currently uninsured individuals on the benefits of investing in their own health.

This next phase will focus on educating county residents to become informed consumers when choosing health insurance and in employing effective health practices. This initiative also will partner the county with local universities and community- based organizations in achieving mutual goals in increasing the numbers of individuals and families who have health insurance.

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