Public-private health care partnership in Miami
Miami-Dade County officials and Blue Cross Blue Shield are teaming up to develop a plan for the uninsured.
The following is not a full transcript; for full story, listen to audio.
Josh Johnson, reporter and anchor for WLRN, Miami Herald News, attended the first day of sign-ups for a program in South Florida that is taking health care reform into local hands, not waiting for Washington.
Johnson says that the program, called Miami-Dade Blue, was bid out for local insurance companies that wanted to create a county health plan to cover the 600,000 people in Miami-Dade county that have no coverage.
"Here is the crazy thing about it - of the 600,000 people in Miami-Dade who have no coverage, 80% of them have jobs. So it's not like these people are totally indigent. They are either people who work two part-time jobs and neither one provides insurance, they are people who work seasonal jobs, they can't get insurance year-round, maybe they're freelancers, they work in the construction industry, or they work for small businesses that don't provide coverage. So, these are people who otherwise would be able to pay for health insurance, but they just can't get it."
One of the people involved is the Marketing President of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida, Penny Shaffer. She says it's all about economics, "Many hospitals would see these folks as uncompensated care. So the ability to put them into an insurance program, the ability to get compensated for the care, and the ability to let them access care, actually prevents things that are absolutely catastrophic. The people who don't have insurance will let a cold become pneumonia, and by the time they get to the hospital, it's an expensive hospital stay."
"Blue Cross Blue Shield is a non-profit health company, and so they believe that there is a obviously a public mandate that they need to cover these folks before their health care needs become urgent," says Johnson.
Johnson explains that the program isn't quite a public mandate, "Miami-Dade's Office of County-Wide Health Planning determined that this is an emergency -- it's something that they have to do. But they decided that they're not in the health care business, and they don't really want to get in the healthcare business, so they farmed it out to somebody else.
"So it's kind of the middle ground, it seems, between letting the private insurance companies just run wild and do whatever they want to do and saying, 'private companies can't do it, it has to be government's responsibility.' This is seems to be kind of a hybrid of both those schools of thought."
"The Takeaway" is a national morning news program, delivering the news and analysis you need to catch up, start your day, and prepare for what’s ahead. The show is a co-production of WNYC and PRI, in editorial collaboration with the BBC, The New York Times Radio, and WGBH.