Bill to allow Oklahomans to shop across state lines for health insurance passes House
OKLAHOMA CITY – Oklahomans across the state may soon have additional options when it comes to healthcare.
For several years, the state of Oklahoma has watched carriers like UnitedHealthcare, Humana and Aetna pull out of the Affordable Care Act marketplace exchange.
“The year after that, we went to two, we went to one and that’s where we are now,” said Deputy Commissioner Buddy Combs, with the Oklahoma Insurance Department.
Blue Cross Blue Shield Oklahoma is the only carrier left for Oklahomans to buy healthcare through the exchange.
However, Combs said Blue Cross isn’t making enough of a profit.
“We’ve seen a lot more older and sicker individuals buying health insurance on exchange, and we haven’t seen enough young, healthy people to support that with premiums,” he said.
In March, Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John Doak sent a letter to the governor and the state’s congressional leaders, warning them to act fast.
Without a carrier, those who qualify for coverage could be without federal subsidies, and that could mean higher premiums.
Rep. Lewis Moore told NewsChannel 4 that since the state ranks high in obesity, hypertension and pre-diabetes, many insurance carries don’t want to do business in the Sooner State.
Senate Bill 478 would allow companies outside of Oklahoma to market their health insurance in the state. The plans would still need to be approved by each participating state legislature, but would require all compacted states to offer coverage that matches mandated coverage required in Oklahoma.
“If somebody from Illinois wanted to sell their coverage in Oklahoma, they can do so as long as they met the basic agreements,” Moore said.
The bill recently passed the Oklahoma House of Representatives and will now go to a conference committee before returning to the Senate for final approval.