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Florida Blue CEO Encourages Health Insurance Consumers To Shop Around

There are only a few days left until the nation's new health insurance exchanges are set to open.

October 1 is  when the uninsured will first be able to sign up for health insurance online. Premium costs are expected to vary widely state by state.

Florida  has resisted Obamacare, refusing to set up its own state-run exchange.

The Florida House also refused to expand Medicaid for low-income residents, and is not allowing federally funded "navigators" access to most county health departments.

Despite all those wrinkles, Florida Blue CEO Pat Geraghty says his company is proceeding with a robust offering of plans.

The company has already announced they’ll have plans available online next week for all 67 Florida counties.

"It's absolutely a major undertaking, but we're a Florida-based company, and so we're committed to our state. We're the hometown team, if you will. And so we decided we had to be everywhere across our state," said Geraghty.

The sticker price for a benchmark health plan in Florida's online marketplace will average $328 a month, far below the price that had originally been forecast, according to a federal report released early Wednesday. 

The amount many consumers pay will be less than that once subsidies kick in, depending on household income.

Beginning Oct. 1 people will have six months to shop around and decide what works for them.

"We studied the Massachusetts plan, where they've had an exchange in place for a number of years," he said.

"People go online, and usually they want to go talk to somebody before they make a decision. So we've added 11 retail centers across the state for our customers. We're also working to educate the public about what the consumer's choices are."

Melissa Ross joined WJCT in 2009 with 20 years of experience in broadcasting, including stints in Cincinnati, Chicago, Orlando and Jacksonville. During her career as a television and radio news anchor and reporter, Melissa has won four regional Emmys for news and feature reporting.