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New name makes it harder to differentiate between state, federal health exchange

The federal government has decided to call the health exchanges it's setting up as part of the Affordable Care Act “insurance marketplaces.” And that is rubbing the people behind Florida Health Choices the wrong way.

The state is close to launching its health exchange, Florida Health Choices, which doesn't qualify as a federal exchange but operates in a similar way. "Florida's Health Insurance Marketplace" is the tag line splashed across its website and on marketing materials.

Florida Health Choices chief executive Rose Naff takes issue with the federal government’s use of the word “marketplace,” saying the penalties tied to the individual mandate take away the freedom of choice that word symbolizes. She also worries the similar names with cause problems for Floridians.

“It is important that consumers are able to distinguish between the two, and we have to consider whether the federal adoption of our ‘marketplace’ name is going to cause confusion,” she said.

The Legislature passed the bill that created Florida Health Choices well before Congress approved the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which requires each state to set up a health exchange. In December, the state missed the deadline to set up its own health exchange so the federal government will launch one in Florida instead.

At least initially, some Floridians may have to choose between participating in “Florida’s Health Insurance Marketplace” and the federal government’s “health insurance marketplace.”