Health Insurance in Florida: 10 Counties That Win From Obamacare

Health Insurance in Florida: 10 Obamacare Winners

In Florida today, health insurance reform is almost as controversial as the current special election to fill one of the state’s congressional seats. As in most recent elections, in this race Obamacare is an unavoidable, emotional issue because Florida’s legislature is actively reconsidering Medicaid expansion. Florida originally opted out of the Medicaid expansion, leaving 764,000 adults in the uninsured abyss that is the coverage gap. Nevertheless, NerdWallet Health predicts some Floridians will benefit from Obamacare in a big way.

NerdWallet Health built a first-of-its-kind customizable insurance guide that simply estimates monthly premiums and clearly explains what the uninsured in each of the 50 states need to know about the Affordable Care Act. The guide also connects users to four different resources to buy an insurance plan before the deadline of March 31st, 2014 — after which uninsured adults will be subject to a penalty. Using pricing data from the guide and from other government measures, we determined the Florida counties that win—that is, those that are most likely to benefit— from Obamcare based on the following:

  • High primary care physician density: We expect those counties with more primary care physicians relative to population size will be better able to accommodate a high volume of newly insured patients.
  • Low initial health insurance coverage: Counties with lower pre-Obamacare health insurance coverage rates are expected to benefit more from the law.
  • Low price of individual health plans: Lower monthly insurance premiums under Obamacare are expected to attract more individual insurance subscribers.
  • Low price of family health plans: Lower monthly insurance premiums under Obamacare are expected to attract more family insurance subscribers.


Top 10 Obamacare Winners in Florida

1. Alachua County (largest city: Gainesville)
Alachua is our #1 Obamacare winner. It ranks first in physician density, with a value nearly three times that of the next county. With the number of health promotions and programs Alachua has, it’s no wonder it had the second-lowest percentage of its population that is uninsured. Alachua’s Healthy Communities Initiative addresses the need to reduce obesity rates, while its FluMist vaccine program recently set a flu vaccination record for K-12 students. Roughly 13,000 students took advantage of free flu shots, the most in program history, and many cite these numbers as proof that the program should be a national model for all public places that cater to the most susceptible populations.
2. Collier County (largest city: Naples)
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation ranked Collier third in overall health outcomes on its most recent Florida county health rankings. Collier is home to the Naples Children & Education Foundation, a nonprofit organization that addresses the needs of children. NCEF conducted two studies on the well-being of children in Collier County and identified gaps in several service areas, including dental and medical health care. This year, through their annual Naples Winter Wine Festival, NCEF raised $13.5 million, which will provide invaluable gifts and grants to the many agencies and charities the NCEF supports. Naples Community Hospital, located in Collier County, is ranked the seventh-best hospital in Florida for affordability.
3. Citrus County (largest city: Homosassa Springs)
Citrus ranked second on our list in average insurance prices for individuals and for families. As part of the Central Healthy Start Coalition, Citrus County is invested in the health care of its families. The Healthy Start program provides free risk-screening services for all pregnant women and families with babies up to the age of 3. It also provides home visits, educational information, smoking cessation counseling and other support services for pregnant woman and their babies.
4.  DeSoto County (largest city: Arcadia)
The National Association of County & City Health Officials (NACCHO) cited DeSoto’s Closing the Gap—Hispanic Migrant Farmworker Diabetes Education Program as a model. The program sought to reduce the barriers that prevent migrant workers from seeking treatment for Type 2 diabetes and to provide Hispanic farmworkers and their families with educational materials that promote awareness and reduce incidences of Type 2 diabetes. The program’s goal is to reduce the increasing costs of preventable diabetes-related emergencies.
5. Gulf County (largest city: Port St. Joe)
My GULF Care, a collaboration between Sacred Heart Hospital and the Gulf County Health Department, provides its community with lots of health resources. It helps residents to find physicians, disease management programs and other assistance programs. It is no wonder that the county was recently honored by the NACCHO for its ability to respond to public health emergencies.
6. Hendry County (largest city: Clewiston)
Despite having the state’s highest percentage of uninsured residents, Hendry County is still an Obamacare winner because the county provides its citizens with an abundance of resources to maintain their health and wellness. The Heart to Heart Chronic Disease Health Prevention and Education Program offers diabetes and smoking cessation classes, sponsors the Fresh 2 U fruit and vegetable program for elementary schools and sponsors the Hendry County on the Move group exercise program. The Mobile Mammography Outreach program and annual Love the Lake 5k/10k are two more examples of health promotion programs in Hendry. The Love the Lake race is in its third year and has added a half-marathon to entice more people to participate.
7. Marion County (largest city: Ocala)
Marion County is investing in the future of its residents. Through the Community Health Improvement Plan, the county aims to increase residents’ health outcomes and behaviors. The program aligns Marion’s health goals and targets with state and national health outcomes and standards. Marion is taking advantage of already established community assets and resources to meet these goals and targets.
8. Bradford County (largest city: Starke)
This county was honored by the NACCHO for being “public health ready.” On our list it ranked first with the lowest percentage uninsured residents and first with the lowest average insurance prices for individuals and families. Bradford County also takes part in the Text4baby program, which sends free weekly text messages to expectant mothers on topics ranging from labor symptoms to developmental milestones. Expectant mothers let the program know their due date, and then they receive tailored messages that address their needs at critical points in their pregnancy. Texts are sent up until the baby’s first birthday and are available in Spanish as well as in English.
9. Indian River County (largest city: Sebastian)
Tying for third in physician density is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Indian River physicians’ ability to accommodate its residents. For 15 years, Indian River’s We Care free clinic program has managed, in the words of one of its officials, to operate with “no budget, no money, no fundraising and a low profile,” thanks to the active and retired, volunteer physicians who have donated their time, care and services. Their volunteer work has been valued at nearly $1 million per year. We Care provides services ranging from cardiology to podiatry to those otherwise unable to afford specialty medical treatment. The Indian River Medical Center, Florida’s most affordable hospital, is also located here.
10. Sarasota County (largest city: North Port)
One of the youngest counties in Florida, Sarasota rounds out our list. Its Community Health Improvement Partnership with Charlotte County strives to get community members to be proactive about their health and the health of others. It publishes research and provides educational materials to the public, while facilitating conversation among health care providers and administration. Sarasota reaches out to underserved communities through the Health in Motion program, a mobile medical unit that delivers health and medical services. Volunteer physicians, nurses and clerks provide immunizations, screening tests and aid in finding permanent primary care physicians. And Sarasota Memorial Hospital is ranked the fifth-best hospital in Florida for affordability.


Ranking County Largest city Doctor density (primary care physicians/100,000 residents) % of population uninsured Avg. monthly insurance premium: individual* Avg. monthly insurance premium: married couple + 2 children* Score
1 Alachua Gainesville 202 20.4% $300 $893 72.1
2 Collier Naples 71 28.6% $304 $905 65.1
3 Citrus Homosassa Springs 53 22.5% $278 $826 64.1
4 DeSoto Arcadia 37 32.8% $314 $936 62.7
5 Gulf Port St. Joe 63 21.5% $284 $845 61.8
6 Hendry Clewiston 23 35.0% $322 $960 61.0
7 Marion Ocala 54 24.2% $296 $881 60.1
8 Bradford Starke 32 20.0% $273 $813 59.8
9 Indian River Sebastian 71 25.0% $310 $922 58.5
10 Sarasota North Port 86 22.9% $308 $917 58.3


Florida counties with the most expensive health insurance

Ranking County Largest city Doctor density (primary care physicians/100,000 residents) % of population uninsured Avg. monthly insurance premium: individual* Avg. monthly insurance premium: married couple + 2 children* Score
1 Monroe Key West 67 27.5% $420 $1,250 23.7
2 Miami-Dade Miami 107 34.4% $370 $1,102 54.4
3 Polk Lakeland 53 23.4% $365 $1,086 35.5
4 Hardee Wauchula 25 32.6% $359 $1,067 45.9
5 Broward Fort Lauderdale 81 26.0% $358 $1,066 44.6


Florida counties with the best health insurance coverage

Ranking County Largest city Doctor density (primary care physicians/100,000 residents) % of population uninsured Avg. monthly insurance premium: individual* Avg. monthly insurance premium: married couple + 2 children* Score
1 St. Johns Ponte Vedra Beach 95 15.4% $341 $1,016 38.5
2 Clay Lakeside 68 17.0% $322 $957 43.9
3 Baker Macclenny 30 17.9% $326 $969 38.9
4 Wakulla Sopchoppy 23 18.0% $349 $1,039 30.3
5 Sumter Bushnell 24 18.2% $303 $902 46.3

*Average health plan prices determined by averaging silver plans for ages 21, 30, 40, and 50 by county.

Sources: NerdWallet Health analysis. 2010 Primary Care Providers; 2011 Small Area Health Insurance Estimates; Landscape Individual Market Medical.


Primary care physician density: Number of physicians in primary care (general practice, internal medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, or pediatrics) per 100,000 residents from the The Health Resources and Services Administration.
Health insurance coverage: Percentage of residents with health insurance from the U.S. Census Small Area Health Insurance Estimates.
Price of individual health plans: Average health plan prices determined by averaging silver plans for individuals ages 21, 30, 40, and 50 by county. Data obtained from QHP Landscape Individual Market Medical from
Price of family health plans: Average health plan prices determined by averaging silver plans for couples ages 21, 30, 40, and 50 with two children by county. Data obtained from QHP Landscape Individual Market Medical from

Sunset photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

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