More than three years after President Obama's Affordable Care Act was signed into law, Oklahomans without health insurance can finally start shopping for coverage.
The long-anticipated opening of the insurance marketplace will occur Tuesday in spite of bitter opposition to the health care overhaul law by Oklahoma's highest elected officials, including Gov. Mary Fallin.
Three Oklahoma organizations will receive a combined $1.6 million in federal funds to provide navigators under the Affordable Care Act, a move Insurance Commissioner John Doak called a waste of money.
“First, (the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services) wastes money an increases costs for insurers and consumers by duplicating regulation already performed by the Oklahoma Insurance Department,” Doak said in a press release. “Now, they continue this wastefulness by spending more on organizations that will be duplicating the work done by Oklahoma’s licensed agents and brokers.”
More than 335,000 insurance and agents and brokers are licensed by the Insurance Department.
In just six weeks, nearly one in 10 Oklahomans will be able to buy subsidized health policies from private insurance companies through a new online marketplace set up by the federal government.
Many more who don’t qualify for the subsidies will still be able to shop on the marketplace and obtain coverage, even if they’ve been turned down in the past for pre-existing conditions.
But it won’t be simple. Several companies will offer policies, with different levels of coverage. Tax credits will be available for people falling within certain income ranges. Many people will need one-on-one assistance to navigate the registration process.