Florida’s Healthcare System Is ‘Failing Our Aging Population’: Agent

A Florida health insurance expert has shared the reasons behind surging premiums inside the state, and it’s bad news for seniors on limited incomes.

As Florida’s senior citizen population grows and very few insurers remain available, many residents have been struggling to afford their healthcare on top of inflated groceries and housing costs.

The average cost of health insurance premiums in the state is expected to rise this year to $613 per month from $599 per month in 2023. Yearly, that brings the price to $7,188 a year in 2023, up from $7,356 in 2024, according to a recent ValuePenguin report.

This is substantially higher than the American average of $7,008 in health insurance premiums in 2024, data shows.

Hospital
An emergency room nurse tends to a patient. Florida residents are experiencing a surge in health insurance premiums, and seniors are some of the most impacted.

Brandon Bell/Getty Images

Joe, a Florida-based insurance agent who wished to be anonymous to avoid the appearance that he is looking for new business, said coverage costs have been soaring ever since pandemic subsidies ended. He now routinely sees clients experiencing hardship while trying to meet their premiums.

“Florida’s health system fails our aging population,” Joe told Newsweek.

While his clients in Pennsylvania and Colorado generally see easier usability in their healthcare marketplace, Floridians are in a much tougher spot.

Residents in other states can see plan options presented side by side for easy comparison on cost and benefits. But in Florida, patients must look at a confusing column chart that often runs between 10 and 12 pages. That means many will not read the whole thing and just pick the first somewhat appealing choice.

“My guess is this design is on purpose,” Joe said. “The insurance industry knows the extent of people’s attention span and laid out a design to steer people.”

Due to the design, many patients end up choosing high deductible, low-cost policies that offer the worst level of protection for patients while being the most profitable for the insurance carrier, Joe said.

While individual costs vary, Joe said over the last 10 months, fixed income and hourly paid households specifically have felt the trickle-down effects of inflation.

“I see this playing out in a greater number of clients struggling to maintain coverage and or consistently falling behind in regular monthly payments,” Joe said. “They simply are prioritizing based on available resources.”

One retired couple Joe knows is forced to swap out credit and debit cards in order to pay for health insurance coverage that allows them to choose doctors of their liking. Other clients pick cheaper plans, but are no longer able to see the healthcare providers they trust and have a relationship with already.

Florida has already seen many providers stop accepting certain insurances. When Millennium stopped accepting Florida Blue’s Medicare Advantage PPO and myBlue HMO Commercial plan networks last year, for instance, many clients were left scrambling to see their doctors, Joe said.

Many factors impact patients’ access to healthcare, but the process has gained considerable complexity in recent years due to coverage variation, a more specialized doctor pool and rising costs for inpatient and outpatient services and lab work.

“The average working or retired Floridian finds it difficult to track all the moving pieces to understand the actual cost impact of deductible, co-insurance, max out of pocket, health deductible and prescription deductible blend, let alone afford coverage,” Joe said.

Many residents mistakenly believe that the least expensive policies on paper are the best option, but sometimes those with higher costs will end up being the most affordable after usage.

Florida’s growing population is exacerbating matters as well.

The state currently is home to 22.6 million people, and the population spiked a whopping 18 percent between 2010 and 2022. Adults aged 60 to 69 made up the largest group of new residents.

The uptick in the aging population especially is a concern to insurers, who have boosted prices to match seniors’ generally higher healthcare costs.

Joe doesn’t foresee the situation getting much better anytime soon either.

“This problem is getting worse,” Joe said. “The single biggest reason this problem is increasing is the insurance carriers’ ongoing efforts to maximize profits.”

Joe added that insurance companies know most people are poorly informed, but they use this to their advantage.

“They will tell you that they do a good job with a difficult subject matter and have shareholders to answer to,” Joe said. “This problem will not go away until the insurance industry and the consumer share the same goal.”

Seniors have been especially hurt by the rising health insurance costs. Despite a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) that saw Social Security payments rise by 3.2 percent, many retirees struggle to afford their basic necessities. Last year, the COLA was far higher, representing an 8.7 percent increase in monthly payments.

“Seniors are hit the worst because they are on fixed incomes. Maybe the COLA adjustment wasn’t enough. Seniors deserve more money,” Brandon Selfors, the CEO of Bridge Life Settlement Brokers, told Newsweek.

Are you a Floridian experiencing difficulty affording health insurance? Newsweek wants to hear from you. Contact us at [email protected].