Miami-Dade Blue offers affordable healthcare

By George Burgess

George Burgess

Miami-Dade County is a national model for making healthcare more affordable and more accessible to residents. A year ago, through a partnership with our Office of Countywide Healthcare Planning and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida, we launched Miami-Dade Blue, a low-cost and comprehensive healthcare plan designed specifically with Miami-Dade residents and small businesses in mind.

Nearly 3,500 people are now enrolled in this insurance program. That’s 3,500 people who may have otherwise denied themselves preventive care (that costs all of us in the long run), avoided seeing a doctor until it was too late, or unnecessarily clogged our already crowded emergency rooms because the ER was their primary care provider.

Participants in Miami-Dade Blue can choose from among nearly 2,000 primary care providers and specialists. They gain access to Jackson Health System’s three hospitals and its primary care centers, as well as other respected medical centers throughout our community, including Baptist Homestead, Coral Gables, Memorial and Palmetto.

With premiums starting as low as $112 for 35-year-old men and $124 for women, Miami-Dade Blue has exceeded all expectations and continues to offer so much promise.

But even with all of its success, we know Miami-Dade Blue can’t reach all of the estimated 600,000 uninsured in our community. We know there are still those who fall through the cracks with incomes so limited they find themselves choosing between mortgage payments, car payments, food and health insurance. So we have found yet another way to enhance an already successful Miami-Dade Blue program.

With $500,000 from the state, we will now be able to cover a portion of the monthly insurance premium for approximately 400 low-to-moderate-income residents under an initiative named the Health Insurance Utilization Program (HIUP). HIUP provides assistance for individuals making a minimum of $16,000 and a maximum of $27,000 a year. This limited premium assistance will only go so far, but it is one more way Miami-Dade County is chipping away at our community’s healthcare challenges.

Initial enrollment took place on July 14- 23, but individuals are encouraged to apply until all slots are filled. Miami-Dade residents who think they are eligible for Miami-Dade Blue and/or premium assistance, can learn more by calling 3-1-1 or visiting online at <>.

Remember, this is not free healthcare. Participants will still be responsible for paying a portion of their premium each month.

We know there is no one answer to tackling our healthcare challenge, but this is yet another component that works with our initiatives on expanding primary care and reducing chronic diseases through our commitment in getting people insured and improving the health of our residents.

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