Pat Geraghty also said the pandemic showed why universal health care is needed.
Florida Blue President and CEO Pat Geraghty said it is hard to say what the health insurer’s 100-acre Deerwood office campus will look like in the future, but he and his team are looking at creative ways to use the space.
“I happen to be of the opinion that we’re not going to be remaining completely remote and we’re not going back to where we were just prior to this pandemic,” Geraghty told the virtual JAXUSA Partnership luncheon Sept. 17.
“I think we’re going to find a spot in the middle.”
JAXUSA President Aundra Wallace led the fireside-chat style conversation with Geraghty. JAXUSA is the economic development division of JAX Chamber.
Geraghty said he sees some employees working a hybrid schedule, with some days in the office and the rest working from home. Others would have the option to work fully remotely.
The leftover space created by remote workers may need to be reconfigured.
“Do we have too much space, do we want to share space? We have to think very creatively about the right balance for us as an employer,” Geraghty said. “I think everyone is going through that same situation, trying to understand what the workplace of the future is about.”
A spokesperson said previously there typically are about 6,000 employees at the Deerwood campus, but most are working remotely during the coronavirus pandemic. The campus at 4800 Deerwood Campus Parkway comprises about 1.3 million square feet of office space.
Florida Blue has been renovating the seven office buildings on its campus for three years. Five are complete and the final two are expected to be remodeled. The total cost of that renovation could reach $45 million.
Geraghty said the company would continue working remotely through the end of the year and in the fall decide on a timeline for a return.
In addition to reconsidering its office space, Geraghty said the pandemic exposed “real gaps in employer-based coverage.”
As people lost their jobs, they also lost health care coverage, leaving them to turn to the Affordable Care Act.
“Our situation in Florida would be much worse if we didn’t have the ACA there to catch people who went uncovered,” he said.
Geraghty suggested the program could be improved if younger people were incentivized to enroll.
“Everyone’s price gets better” when more young people enroll, he said.
When asked about the effect that implementing universal health care would have on Florida Blue, Geraghty said he supports universal coverage.
“I believe everyone in our state ought to be covered,” he said. “Many people in this audience know I have advocated for the expansion of coverage in our state and I believe to this day that fiscal conservatives would agree that we ought to cover people.”
He has advocated for Medicaid expansion in Florida, saying it’s “a good equation” for the state. With more people covered, costs go down for everyone, he said.
“Today our tax dollars go to Washington,” Geraghty said. “We didn’t expand and the 36 states who did expand are using our money to pay for their expansion. It’s not good economics.”