The Norman Transcript

State/Region

September 30, 2013

U.S. health insurance exchange to open in Oklahoma

(Continued)

OKLAHOMA CITY —

“The HHS report is extremely misleading,” Doak said. “No matter how you try to dress it up, this federal law is unfair, unworkable and unaffordable.”

The exchange will offer an average of 53 health plans from five different companies.

Individuals will be able to choose between four levels of coverage for each health plan — bronze, silver, gold and platinum. Bronze plans cost less, but individuals will have more out-of-pocket costs when they seek care. Platinum plans cost more, but individuals will pay less when they seek health care. There are also catastrophic plans for young adults and those without affordable options.

To enroll in a health care plan through the federal insurance marketplace, individuals will have to provide basic information about themselves and their income and learn about their eligibility for tax credits. They can then shop for a health plan and enroll.

Tax credits and premium payments will be made directly to the insurance company.

Gov. Mary Fallin, an opponent of the health care law who voted against it as a member of Congress from the 5th District, had planned to accept a $54 million federal grant in 2011 to create a state-operated health insurance exchange. Under pressure from Republican legislative leaders, she later rejected a state-based insurance exchange under the health care law.

Fallin also turned down an expansion of Medicaid to provide coverage to low-income, uninsured citizens. There are about 600,000 uninsured Oklahomans and about 200,000 would have benefited from the expansion, state officials have said.

Fallin’s communications director, Alex Weintz, said that in spite of her opposition to the law, the governor believes Oklahomans should be given accurate information about its provisions and decide for themselves what to do.

“We are trying to help provide our constituents with the things they need to decide whether they want to participate in the exchange,” Weintz said.

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