According to a new report from the Florida Health Insurance Advisory Board, the number of people in Florida with private health insurance has continued to decline.

The News Service of Florida reports:

About 3.7 million people had commercial insurance, down from nearly 3.9 million in 2009 and 4.5 million in 2006. The drop last year stemmed primarily from losses in the in-state small-group market, which saw enrollment decline by almost 19 percent. The individual market saw a 3 percent increase in 2010. But the report, which is updated annually, said the uptick in individual coverage is linked to the drop in the small-group market. “Because of the natural link between small business coverage and individual coverage, enrollment gains in the individual market can be reflective of a somewhat weakening small group market as smaller employers drop coverage,” the report said.

Last year, Florida had the third highest percentage of residents without insurance, according to U.S. Census data. The 2010 Census information (.xls) finds that from 2008 to 2010, Florida’s average percentage of uninsured people was 20.7 percent. The national average for uninsured citizens was 15.6 percent.

Florida is also currently leading the fight against the federal health care reform law — a law written to expand health insurance coverage in the county. Florida and 25 other states have appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court to rule on the constitutionality of the law. Hearings will commence in March.

Florida has been thwarting the implementation of the Affordable Care Act since its passage. According to research by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Florida is one of only five states returning grants awarded by the federal government to implement the state exchanges, as well as a slew of other grants meant to assist low-income or at-risk communities in the state. State officials have also said they will not be creating a state exchange until the Supreme Court decides to uphold the health care reform law.

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