Plan To Lower Oklahoma Health Insurance Premiums Not Approved

Tuesday, October 3rd 2017, 6:24 pm
By: Dana Hertneky

The state's plan to lower health insurance premiums for more than 100,000 Oklahomans is now D.O. A. State health officials say the federal government failed to give the final approval on time.

The plan was to create a reinsurance pool to help insurance companies who participate in the Affordable Care Act pay for high cost claims. The state said it would have decreased premiums for those who buy insurance on the exchange by about 30 percent.

Brett Casey is an insurance agent with Health Markets and said a lot of his customers have quit buying insurance through the government exchange.

“A record number of people saying enough is enough,” said Casey.

He did too when premiums for his family of four went up more than $1,400 in two years. He instead purchased insurance through a faith based plan.

“Last year it went up like 90 percent. We were just like okay, we’re done.”

Casey is one of 130,000 Oklahomans Oklahoma Secretary of Health and Human Services Terry Cline said would have seen their premiums decrease if the waiver was approved.

In a letter to the Federal Government, Kline also said 30,000 Oklahomans who dropped out of the exchange because the premiums were too high would have been have be able to afford insurance again.

The letter goes on to say the federal government promised, "last Friday, September 22, waiver approval would be forthcoming on Monday."

But, "When your department communicated on Monday that waiver approval would not be provided, with no reason for the delay or timeframe for approval the Oklahoma reinsurance program was effectively inoperative for the 2018 plan year.”  

Representative Glen Mulready has been involved in the waiver since the beginning.

“The Department of Health indicated to me and to others they had received nothing but green lights and they thought it would be approved and that they would be able to receive that approval timely,” he said.

Rep. Mulready said the plus side of the delay is it allows them more time and take a bigger picture look at the waiver.

News 9 reached out to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, but hasn’t heard back.