Oscar files preliminary injunction to halt Florida Blue's 'exclusive' broker policy

Health insurance startup Oscar Health filed a motion for preliminary injunction to stop Florida Blue from enforcing a policy that Oscar said bars Orlando insurance brokers from selling any other insurance if they sell Florida Blue policies.

The motion follows Oscar's initial lawsuit, filed Nov. 13 in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida Orlando Division, that claims Florida Blue's broker policy allows it to effectively operate as a monopoly. Oscar, which is offering individual health plans in Orlando for the first time in 2019, said most of Orlando's insurance brokers only sell Florida Blue plans despite other suitable plans that are available.

In its preliminary injunction, filed Nov. 19, Oscar said: "Florida Blue's exclusivity policy has substantially foreclosed Oscar from accessing the brokers necessary to compete for a substantial majority of the Individual Plan business in Orlando. Moreover, the ramifications of Florida Blue's scheme are broader because its conduct jeopardizes Oscar's plans to enter in Jacksonville and Tampa, as well as other Florida markets." Oscar also filed affidavits from an antitrust economist and two brokers allegedly affected by the policy with its preliminary injunction.

Earlier in November, Florida Blue told Becker's in the following statement that it believes Oscar's grievances don't have merit:

"Exclusive arrangements in the insurance business have been used for many years by such insurance companies as State Farm, Nationwide, Farmers, Florida Blue and others. There is also nothing about the Florida market which precludes any competitor — let alone a New York-based company with financial backing from Google and operations in nine states — from building an effective distribution channel. There are many agencies available that are not contracted with Florida Blue, and there are also other distribution channels from which they can sell their products."

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