Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Surprise - Texas Out of Step with Healthcare


I'm posting this because Maryland is an example of the benefits of the Affordable Care Act (read the rest of the article here). And to remind us that Texas continues to fiddle with an expansion of Medicaid that would help some of the 6 million citizens of our state - including 600,000 residents in Dallas County - who are without healthcare insurance. 
The 'disaster' we hear critics warning about is of our own making...

Maryland issues insurance rates that are among lowest in U.S.

Maryland insurance officials approved final rates Friday for health plans to be sold in the state’s new online marketplace that are among the lowest in the country. The plans, which are for individuals, will be sold beginning Oct. 1.
The Maryland Insurance Administration approved premiums at levels as much as 33 percent below what had been requested by insurance carriers. For a 21-year-old non-smoker, for example, options start as low as $93 a month. Insurance Commissioner Therese Goldsmith reduced the premium rates proposed by every insurance carrier in the individual market, including some by more than 50 percent, according to an analysis by Maryland officials who will be operating the marketplace.
The rates offered by nine carriers are among the lowest of the 12 states that have proposed or approved rates for comparison to date, and among the lowest in the D.C. area.
“We are pleased that Maryland is among the lowest in the country,” said the state’s health secretary, Joshua Sharfstein. He said the rates were an important step for the launch of the online marketplace, the Maryland Health Connection.
According to the analysis, a 25-year-old buying the cheapest “bronze” plan — with the lowest premium but higher out-of-pocket costs — would pay $119 to $129 a month in Maryland, compared with $151 in Washington and $134 in Virginia. A 50-year-old could buy a “silver” plan and pay $260 to $269 a month in Maryland, compared with $319 in New York and $329 in Virginia.
Officials said the state’s analysis also showed that a majority of Marylanders expected to purchase health insurance through the marketplace will be eligible for tax subsidies to reduce the cost of coverage under the federal health-care law, known as the Affordable Care Act. Subsidies would be available for Americans who earn less than 400 percent of the poverty line, about $45,000 for an individual.
Dan Mendelson, chief executive of Avalere Health, a health-care consulting firm tracking implementation of the health-care overhaul, said Maryland’s low rates are consistent with states where there is strong competition among insurance carriers and among hospitals and other provider networks. Nationally, the rates approved or proposed so far have been below analysts’ expectations, Mendelson said.
“In some ways, these are ideal circumstances because rates are so low, but we still have to see whether people will actually go out and buy this product,” he said.
A spokeswoman for the Health and Human Services Department cited Maryland’s news as another example of how the federal law was “providing families with affordable and new choices.”
Under the law, insurers in all states must provide health insurance for individuals that includes a basic package of benefits, including maternity, preventive and mental-health services. In the past, insurance carriers have been allowed to deny applicants based on pre-existing conditions. Starting next year, they will no longer be able to do so.

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