A federal judge has ruled health insurer Florida Blue can use brokers to sell its plans while a lawsuit filed by rival Oscar wends its way through the court system.
Oscar in November sued Florida Blue, accusing the health insurer of forcing brokers to sell its policies and hurting the ability of consumers to make more affordable choices in the Obamacare business.
As part of Oscar’s suit, the New York-based health insurer sought a preliminary injunction to prohibit Florida Blue from using its “exclusive agents” until the court case was resolved. Oscar’s injunction was denied Tuesday by U.S. District Judge Paul Byron.
”We believe that we presented compelling evidence to the court, and are pleased that Judge Byron found in Florida Blue’s favor,” Florida Blue said in a statement Tuesday evening. “In fact, we have already filed a motion asking the Court to dismiss the lawsuit in its entirety.”
Florida is a new market for Oscar, which sells individual healthcare coverage under the Affordable Care Act. Oscar has made a name for itself in part for expanding as other bigger insurers like Aetna, Anthem, Humana and UnitedHealth Group have left the ACA’s individual Obamacare market after being unable to effectively manage the costs of Americans buying such coverage.
But Oscar said its efforts to compete in Florida have been stymied by Florida Blue and that the insurer’s exclusive arrangements prevent brokers from doing business with other health plans.
“We’re disappointed the court denied a preliminary injunction,” Oscar general counsel Bruce Gottlieb said in a statement Tuesday evening. “We look forward to further pursuing our claims on the merits.”
Neither Oscar nor Florida Blue have released how many customers they have signed up for Obamacare for 2019. Florida Blue is one of the nation’s largest health insurers and dominant in its home state and had more than 1 million individual customers in the Obamacare business last year.