Jason Fischer seeks fix to long-term health insurance woes

Fischer believes the bill "brings all the stakeholders to the table."

A legislative fix may be on the horizon for issues in Florida’s long-term health insurance market.

HB 673, filed Wednesday by second-term Jacksonville Republican Jason Fischer, is intended to counter what Fischer calls “unsustainable rate hikes.”

“Legislation that I have filed today aims to protect those seniors by relieving them from too-high rate hikes and ensuring continued access to the benefits of a life insurance product,” Fischer said.

“The legislation, based on the national model, broadens the liability base by bringing both life and health insurers into the assessment base, while maintaining a valuable product for Florida seniors and protecting the state against any future insolvencies,” Fischer added.

Fischer believes the bill “brings all the stakeholders to the table” on a “consensus solution to a critical senior protection issue our state faces.”

The federal government estimates 12 million senior citizens will require long-term care by 2020, and those demographic pressures are exacting pressures on insurers that can lead to insolvency.

A recent Office of Insurance Regulation summit spotlighted just those issues.

“There’s a lot of sticker shock associated with these types of policies. They’re cost-prohibitive in a lot of cases,” Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier said at the summit. “But, certainly, they cover services that the vast majority of our aging population is going to need. This is a critical issue.”

Despite patients paying into plans for decades before they need them, premiums don’t match the spiraling cost of care, especially with life expectancy up.

“There are a lot of legacy products that were issued a long time ago, and they were just issued at prices that were too low, but nobody knew it at the time,” Altmaier said. “It’s a hard conversation about bringing the rates back to the level that they should have been originally.”

Thirteen states, so far, have reformed this part of the insurance industry.

If passed, Fischer’s bill would prevent large rate increases, bringing HMOs and the life insurance industry into the long-term care insurance base to broaden and fund it.

Time is of the essence for patients.

As the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported, Blue Cross Blue Shield patients are in for 94 percent premium hikes though 2021. This was a fraction of the 280 percent increase the company wanted.

Three other companies have been approved for hikes over 80 percent, with somewhat less daunting increases across the board. In all cases, the companies got just a portion of what they requested.


Tallahassee contributing correspondent Michael Moline contributed to this post.

Staff Reports


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