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Monday, October 28, 2013

THREE-FOURTHS OF TEXAS COUNTIES HAVE JUST ONE OR TWO INSURANCE COMPANIES IN THE MARKETPLACE

The Affordable Care Act health insurance marketplace has been open — sort of — for nearly a month. The Obama administration is ready to announce that Americans will have until the end of March, rather than the first of January, to get health insurance or face a penalty. At a congressional hearing on the problems with the Healthcare.gov website, everyone seemed to agree that the main culprit was a person named “somebody else.” So far in Texas, about a dozen insurance companies are participating in the marketplace, selling roughly 100 different plans across the state. In some counties, insurer choice is quite limited. Of the 254 counties in Texas, 76 had only one health insurer (Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas) providing benefits through the marketplace when it opened in October. One hundred-eleven counties had just two insurers offering coverage — Blue Cross and Scott & White Health Plan. Those 187 counties are mostly in rural areas; the more populated counties have more choices. TMA’s “Hey, Doc” educational campaign is now focusing on the health plans and on subsidies for low-income buyers. We hope you and your patients find this program helpful.

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