Economic Downturn Strains Miami Health Care System

The economic downturn and disproportionate fallout on the tourism, real estate and construction sectors has affected Miami more than many metropolitan areas across the country. With an unemployment rate that has doubled, and many small firms having closed or dropped health coverage for workers, hospital competition for privately insured patients has intensified. At the same time, with almost one-third of residents uninsured, the Miami safety-net is struggling. County-owned Jackson Health System, the major provider of inpatient care to Miami’s low-income residents, has experienced financial troubles.

Numerous health plans and providers serve the Miami market. Insurers are competing to offer new products—and revisiting old ones—to gain enrollees. Baptist Health South Florida and the other hospital systems are expanding geographically in search of well-insured patients. The community is served by a relatively large number of physicians, who remain largely independent in small primary care or consolidating specialty practices, yet some are exploring tighter affiliations with hospitals