Health Care Reform – It matters where you live

Colorado, Oregon or Missouri – Where do you fit in?

While we have general guidelines under the Affordable Care Act on a national level, we have very different ideas on how we want health care in our individual states. Oregon and Colorado are full speed ahead building a diverse health care exchange platform to assist the 600,000 and 760,000 (respectively) uninsured. The exchanges in these states have already shown that involvement from the carriers creates competition and rates are not as earlier predicted. Both of these states have taken a homegrown approach to get the word out through television commercials, marketing materials, training, local offices and representatives. The insurance community is working together to ensure the laws’ success. They also have been very clear that the “road will a bumpy one to start” and that “Will it be perfect? No!”, but regardless, they are “all in”.

In Missouri, this is not the case. They have not built a state exchange and are waiting for the government step in. There is no local office. There are no commercials. There is no voice and no presence. It has been described as being similar to a covert operation. No one seems to know what is happening.

As an active health insurance consultant in Oregon, I am hearing very positive feedback from both the individual and small business markets. They are excited for many reasons:
1)  The individuals that have been denied coverage due to basic health issues such as allergies or a sprained ankle years ago or because they have seen a counselor for divorce, can now get insurance either in or out of the exchange due to the elimination of the preexisting condition exclusion.

2) The individuals with chronic issues such as bipolar disorder or diabetes can now get affordable coverage, the medications they need and regularly scheduled doctor visits to help them lead a healthy lifestyle keeping them employed and out of the emergency room.

3) For small businesses under 50 employees that have been offering coverage but feel it doesn’t fit the needs of all the employees can now go through the exchange by paying a defined contribution and offering choice of benefits and choice of carriers to the employees.

4) The individuals and businesses that found coverage unaffordable can now get a tax credit or subsidy inside the exchange.

We all know that the system is not perfect. There are many parts and pieces to the law that need to be modified. But already, many of the current changes and the excitement behind the exchange have been positive.



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