Lower Health Insurance Rates for Individuals and Small Businesses

missouriMissouri’s Health Insurance Committee passed legislation to set up health insurance exchanges in the state based on the provisions set forth in the Affordable Care Act of 2010.  The St. Louis Beacon article “Missouri House begins work on health insurance exchanges,” by Robert Joiner, discusses the Show-Me Health Insurance Act in Missouri.  These exchanges will allow small businesses and individuals looking for health insurance to shop around for the lowest health insurance rates possible.  The system will be fully operational in 2014 and could help a million Missouri residents get lower health insurance rates.  Most of the plan has to be in place by January of 2012 and the state still has a lot of work left to do.

An expansion of Medicaid will be included in this health care reform as well, from being available to only the poorest residents to eventually including residents making 400% of the federal poverty guidelines.  Insurance companies like Aultcare can no longer charge higher health insurance rates to people because of their health status or gender, although they can still base rates on age.  Missouri will receive $1 million to help set-up the exchange from the government, but they will have to finance it on their own by 2015.  Missouri is one of the states that chose to run their own health insurance exchange because they want to be in charge rather than let the government make decisions for their state health insurance exchange.  One of the biggest challenges is making sure that the system is very user friendly and explains the choices and health insurance rates in a simple way.  Teaming up with another state or two to work together on a user-friendly system might be the best bet for Missouri.  As all the kinks get worked through, it will be even more beneficial to individuals and small businesses looking for cheaper health insurance.

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