The $5,500 vs. $95 question: will the uninsured buy mandated health plans?

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In a special report on health insurance published Tuesday, Florida Trend describes how employers are still struggling to understand the Affordable Care Act as the implementation date nears. 

“The Affordable Care Act is poised to transform our health insurance system, encouraging more people to buy insurance,” Lilly Rockwell wrote. “But as the full implementation date nears, health insurers are raising rates, and employers are scrambling to understand what it means for them.”

If there’s any group poised to help consumers navigate the enrollment process it is Florida Blue, the mega-insurer that represents more than half of the individual insurance marketplace in Florida and holds more individually-purchased policies than its top three competitors combined.

Florida Blue credits the Affordable Care Act with fostering its entrance into the individual insurance market, setting the stage for more people to seek out coverage.  It has set up 11 retail stores in Florida, and is active in the outreach efforts of Enroll America.

That said, it remains unclear how many individuals will opt to purchase insurance at an average unsubsidized cost of $5,500 per year rather than face the tax penalty of just $95 in the first year. 

The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that one quarter of the total uninsured will buy new policies next year, while the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured estimates that a quarter to a half of uninsured Floridians will do so.