Unanswered Questions Surround State Health Insurance Exchange

by Mark Friedman  on Tuesday, Sep. 4, 2012 7:28 am  

Kurt Knickrehm (Photo by Mike Pirnique)

The premiums for the exchange haven’t been set yet, nor has it been decided which companies are going to be in the exchange. The carriers will make the decision on prices, which will have to comply with Arkansas Insurance Department regulations. Only Arkansas Blue Cross & Blue Shield and QualChoice of Little Rock have indicated they will be in the exchange.

State Rep. Mark Biviano, R-Searcy, who is also on the committee, said that not enough health insurance companies have agreed to be in the exchange in Arkansas.

“It’s not really a competitive exchange,” he said. “A true exchange will offer a competitive environment, and that’s not really what we’re doing.”

Although the premium prices haven’t been set yet, Jones said the prices should be affordable. Households with incomes under 400 percent of the federal poverty level — that is, $92,200 a year for a household of four — would receive tax credits to buy insurance.

Getting the Word Out

Knickrehm said one of the key issues the committee is working on is spreading the word about the exchange to people who probably never had health insurance and don’t understand how it works.

One way to reach them is through someone who acts as an adviser who will then help the uninsured find the right coverage. The advisers will act like an insurance agent but won’t be paid a commission, he said.

Knickrehm said he hopes that most of questions about the exchange will be answered by early next year.

“I’m optimistic,” he said. “But there are new revelations every day.”



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