Protecting Consumer Choice in Florida
Nov 13, 2018
By Joel Klein, Chief Policy and Strategy Officer, OscarOscar files lawsuit to stop Florida Blue’s exclusive broker policyWhen navigating today’s complicated health care system, millions of Americans seek the advice of licensed insurance brokers to help them make informed choices about their health care coverage options. But when Oscar entered Orlando for the first time this year, we found that Florida Blue, an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association and a monopoly in Florida’s ACA market, has a policy that limits consumer choice and undermines the role of brokers. As a result, we have filed a lawsuit demanding the termination of this policy so that Orlando residents have unobstructed access to their health care coverage choices. Orlando is home to a strong broker community that drove substantial enrollments in the individual market in 2018. To protect its monopoly in Orlando, where it controls more than 75% of the individual market, Florida Blue has enacted an exceedingly rare exclusive broker policy that prohibits local insurance brokers that sell Florida Blue plans from selling individual plans of any competing insurer -- allowing it to maintain and expand its market share by preventing meaningful competition. In the world Florida Blue has constructed in Orlando, consumers who turn to many brokers are pointed to only one option -- Florida Blue, even when that option is not the best one for them. This policy severely undermines the ability of independent insurance brokers to provide fair, impartial advice to their clients and, most importantly, hurts unknowing consumers by forcing them to pay more or purchase an inferior product, or both. The fact that Florida Blue plans are not the most affordable option this year makes its restrictions on Orlando brokers even more egregious. Orlando brokers should be allowed to operate as brokers do in every other market -- representing all available plans and advising their clients accordingly. Oscar is committed to consumer choice and refuses to stand by as Florida Blue enforces this anti-consumer, anti-competitive policy. That’s why we have filed a lawsuit that requests the immediate termination of Florida Blue’s exclusive broker policy. We hope that this policy’s termination will achieve several important goals. First, to guarantee that Orlando residents have a fair choice when it comes to their health care. Second, to ensure that the Orlando broker community be allowed to appropriately guide their clients to the best insurance options available. Third, to support the long-term health of Orlando’s individual insurance market so that it continues to attract new entrants who, like Oscar, want to make the health care experience easier, simpler, and more affordable. We are excited to be entering Orlando for the first time this year to deliver our unique, member-focused health insurance plans. We will take all appropriate steps, including working with the broker community, to make sure that Orlando residents have complete, unobstructed access to all insurance options this year. In short, we trust informed consumers to do what’s best for them, while Florida Blue is using its monopoly power to make sure consumers do what’s best for Florida Blue.You can find out more about our plans at www.hioscar.com.