Texas may be establishing a state-run health insurance exchange, should legislation proposed by Rep. John Zerwas come to fruition. The bill would create a simplified insurance market for the state and serve as its exchange as dictated by the federal health overhaul passed the previous year. Under the plan, consumers can choose from plans that are eligible for federal subsidies, of which all will be state-regulated.
Though opposed to the health care reforms proposed by the Obama administration, Zerwas ascribes to the “connector concept,” a middle-ground for state and federal regulations on health care not born from the recent legislature.
Federal law dictates that these exchange programs require insurers to provide competitive policies for standard coverage in five categories to make comparing prices and policies more approachable for the consumer. To ease the financial burden, exchanges help by offering subsidies to low income families and persons.
“Quite frankly,” Zerwas said. “It is something that we should consider on its own merits, regardless of the federal reforms.”
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Zerwas went on to say that if lawmakers do not act in the upcoming session, the Department of Health and Human Services would institute the insurance exchange program.
The bill is meant to “supplement, not replace” the private insurance market in Texas, according to Zerwas, a market that served well over a million policyholders, — both individual and businesses – in 2009.
According to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, states are required to prove that exchange programs can be successfully maintained by 2013. Should they fail, they will be forced to join the American Health Benefit Exchange, the federally driven exchange program.