TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Leaders working to establish an Insurance Marketplace for Florida small businesses will open the web portal early for insurance agents to tour, test and provide feedback before its official launch. The Florida Insurance Marketplace is a centralized website giving licensed agents and their clients — small businesses with four to 50 employees – a place to shop and compare prices from a variety of health plans and benefit options. The beta site for http://www.FloridaHealthChoices.com will go live for two weeks beginning Monday, September 10th.

Licensed insurance agents planning to use the Marketplace are eager to collaborate with Florida Health Choices as it continues to work with Xerox to build and customize the Insurance Marketplace. Recently more than 50 agents participated in focus groups conducted by the Institute for Child Health Policy (ICHP) and after testing the beta site, the agents offered constructive feedback that yielded new information to improve and enhance the web portal.

“We learned from the focus groups that insurance agents find the site appealing for a number of reasons, including the ability to see side-by-side price comparisons and the option to choose among several health plans,” said Aaron Bean, Chair of the Florida Health Choices Board. “Agents also felt strongly that their involvement was necessary in the formation of the Marketplace and we’re responding to that request.”

A series of webinars will be held for agents during the two-week, statewide, testing period that begins Monday, September 10th. During the this time, agents can establish a profile, register as an eligible agent, create client groups, get quotes using sample health plans and rates, and offer suggestions to enhance the Marketplace. In addition, agents and employers can anonymously browse through the beta site [http://www.FloridaHealthChoices.com] to shop and compare a variety of test health plans, and view program content. Agents can click here to access the webinars.

The Florida Health Choices Board recently waived the application and monthly user fees for agents with an active license and will meet again in Miami on September 7th to announce the agent open house.

Phase one of the Insurance Marketplace is scheduled to launch this fall for small businesses. Phase two rolls out in 2013, expanding the program to eligible individuals and increasing the number and types of plans and services offered.