Wyoming residents will get to choose from roughly 16 health insurance plans as the new federal health insurance marketplace opens up today. While Wyoming premiums will be higher than the rest of the country, Mike Fierberg of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid says that tax credits will help offset the cost. He says credits will be available to low-income people, all the way up to salaries that are four-times the federal poverty level.
The Wyoming Insurance Commissioner says he has no idea how the federal health insurance marketplace, also known as an insurance exchange, will change the health insurance landscape in Wyoming. Tom Hirsig says he has no idea how many companies are considering offering insurance to state residents as part of the exchange.
“Probably companies are going to have to pick the states where they do the most business to start with, but in the future we are hoping that with time there will be more activity inside the exchange or marketplace.”
The State Senate has given initial approval to a bill that will allow out-of-state health insurance companies to offer policies in Wyoming. The goal of the legislation is to encourage competition and possibly lower health insurance costs.
Wyoming consumers have limited health insurance choices and supporters hope the bill will fix this. However, Senator Bill Landen of Casper says he is worried that the legislation could harm Wyoming insurers, by bringing in unwanted competition.
The Legislature’s Joint Health and Labor Committee will once again take up the issue of Health Insurance Exchanges this week. An exchange is an on-line marketplace where consumers can purchase health insurance.
Under the Affordable Care Act, states have to either set up their own exchanges or the federal government will set one up for them. Senator Dan Dockstader is among those preparing exchange legislation for the state, but he says Wyoming needs a partner if the state is to be part of a non-federal marketplace.
A federal health official has high hopes that a health insurance exchange will help people get affordable health care insurance, even in Wyoming. An exchange is an on-line marketplace where people can compare policies and costs.
Mike Fierberg with the U-S Department of Health’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services notes that many worried that a similar effort, known as the Medicare Part D prescription drug program would suffer from a lack of competition. He says that certainly has not been the case.
A Wyoming Business Organization is hosting a forum next week about a state Health Insurance Exchange. A health insurance exchange is an on-line marketplace where people can more easily purchase and compare health insurance coverage. Anne Ladd of the Wyoming Business Coalition on Health says her organization favors a health insurance exchange because it addresses rising costs for employers. Ladd says the concept allows budgeting.