Homeless individuals in Pensacola, Florida are being targeted by out-of-town insurance brokers who are taking advantage of their vulnerable situation. These brokers are persuading homeless people to sign up for health insurance policies that they cannot afford, ultimately making it more difficult for them to access proper healthcare coverage.
The insurance brokers, believed to be from Jacksonville, travel to the Pensacola area and aggressively convince people living on the streets to enroll in advantage plans. They even offer incentives like $20 gift cards to persuade individuals to sign up. However, the policies they enroll in have high co-pays and inadequate pharmaceutical coverage, which deter them from seeking the care they need.
Chandra Smiley, CEO of Community Health Northwest Florida, has witnessed the negative impact of these insurance brokers firsthand. She explains that the brokers are active at night, approaching individuals sleeping on park benches and pressuring them to enroll in insurance plans. Leigh Oliver, a case manager, has also encountered these brokers at stores frequented by the homeless population.
This fraudulent behavior not only burdens homeless individuals financially, but it also prevents them from qualifying for Medicare or Medicaid plans. With private coverage, their primary care physicians are often located in different cities, making it even more challenging for them to access the care they require.
Q: How are insurance brokers taking advantage of homeless individuals?
A: Insurance brokers target homeless individuals in Pensacola, persuading them to sign up for health insurance policies that they cannot afford. These brokers offer incentives like gift cards to entice individuals to enroll.
Q: What are the consequences of enrolling in these policies?
A: The policies that homeless individuals are signing up for have high co-pays and inadequate pharmaceutical coverage, making it difficult for them to access the necessary healthcare they need.
Q: Are these individuals able to qualify for Medicare or Medicaid plans?
A: No, due to their private coverage, homeless individuals often do not qualify for Medicare or Medicaid plans. This further exacerbates the challenges they face in accessing healthcare.
Q: How are homeless shelters and organizations responding to this issue?
A: Homeless shelters, such as Waterfront Rescue Mission, have banned insurance brokers from their campuses and are taking legal action against them. Community Health operates a clinic at Waterfront Rescue Mission and is working to provide better medical care for the homeless population.
Q: Is there any progress in addressing the healthcare needs of homeless individuals?
A: A pilot Respite Dorm program at Waterfront, in partnership with Community Health, offers homeless individuals a safe place to stay and recover after being discharged from the hospital. This program aims to provide the necessary care and support to help them transition out of homelessness.