Health Plan Choices Under Health Care Reform Will Vary Based on Where You Live

Although Maryland has attracted a number of insurers under the Affordable Care Act, an article in the New York Times highlights the limited choices that may exist for people in other states.

With only a few months remaining before Americans will start buying coverage through the new state insurance exchanges under President Obama’s health care law, it is becoming clear that the millions of people purchasing policies in the exchanges will find that their choices vary sharply, depending on where they live.

States like California, Colorado and Maryland have attracted an array of insurers. But options for people in other states may be limited to an already dominant local Blue Cross plan and a few newcomers with little or no track record in providing individual coverage, including the two dozen new carriers across the country created under the Affordable Care Act.

Many states are being bound by their current insurance market.

“What we’re seeing is a reflection of the market that already exists,” said Timothy S. Jost, a law professor at Washington and Lee University in Virginia who closely follows the health care law.

Obama administration officials estimate that most Americans will have a choice of at least five carriers when open enrollment begins in October. There are signs of increased competition, with new insurers and existing providers working harder to design more affordable and innovative plans. In 31 states, officials say there will be insurers that offer plans across state lines. The exchanges will be open to the millions of Americans who are uninsured or already buying individual coverage. Many will be eligible for federal subsidies.

But the insurance landscape will be highly varied, with some of the states that have been slow to embrace the law potentially offering the fewest options — and plans with the highest premiums — in the first year.

To learn more about health care reform in Maryland, attend our summer conference session titled “Health Care Reform and Local Health Departments:  Opportunities for Achieving Success.”  During this session, Becca Pearce, Executive Director of the Maryland Health Care Exchange, will discuss Maryland’s progress and what to expect when enrollment begin in October. Deborah Geoller, Worcester County Health Officer, will discuss the local health department role.  The session will be held on Thursday, August 15 from 1:30 pm to 2:30 pm at the Ocean City Convention Center.

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More information about MACo’s 2013 Summer Conference:

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