Florida Blue CEO says single-payer is wrong for future of health care


By William Patrick | Florida Watchdog

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Is Obamacare the first-step toward a single-payer health care system?

“Some people think so,” Pat Geraghty, CEO of Florida Blue, told Watchdog.org.

BEHIND THE CURTAIN: In a candid speech, Pat Geraghty told members of the Economic Club of Florida that single-payer health care is not the way to go.

Geraghty’s guarded response came on the heels of a presentation he gave Tuesday at the Economic Club of Florida on the future of health care.

“If it does, we’ll be a payor,” Geraghty said, guaranteeing his company’s relevance under a Canadian– or British-style health system. “We have 32 percent of Medicare payouts.”

Florida Blue’s size and market strength — it was formerly known as Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida — is undisputed. It’s the state’s largest health insurer offering plans in all 67 Florida counties. In 47 counties, it’s the only health insurance provider.

But under a single-payer system, in which the government pays for all health-care costs, the private insurance giant essentially would be relegated to a government contractor. Many other private insurers wouldn’t be so lucky.

“There’s too much space between where we are now (with the Affordable Care Act) and the single-payer option,” Geraghty told Watchdog.org. “There’s lots of room to innovate between here and there.

“The answer isn’t going to single payer,” Geraghty said. “The answer is developing new partnerships.”

That’s Florida Blue’s strategy for survival — expansion — and dealing with the ever-rising cost of health care.

“The price of health care isn’t going down. It’s being masked to the consumer,” Geraghty said.

The $10.5-billion company only has a profit margin of $100 million, according to Geraghty. This year alone, Florida Blue is facing $110 million in new Obamacare taxes. Those taxes, he said, are getting passed on to consumers.

Other costs include covering young adults until age 27, accepting high-cost patients with pre-existing conditions and the elimination of catastrophic plans to meet the new minimum-coverage requirements.

Though insurance companies will receive more taxpayer-funded revenue for taking on high-risk people, the higher costs ultimately will be paid by consumers. Some consumers will receive government subsidies to offset higher prices, but many others won’t.

Florida Blue is honoring tens of thousands of previously canceled policies due to Obamacare. Given a choice between their old plans and new Obamacare standardized plans, Geraghty said 90 percent of his customers opted to keep their plans.

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