Insure Oklahoma changes could harm system

by The Oklahoman Editorial Board Published: September 10, 2013

The Obama administration has signed off on a one-year extension of Insure Oklahoma. This is good news for nearly 30,000 Oklahomans in the program, but several federally demanded changes are reason for concern.

Roughly 4,600 small businesses use Insure Oklahoma to provide worker coverage. Under the program, state and federal funds cover 60 percent of the cost of an employee's premium. Participating workers pay no more than 15 percent of the cost; employers cover at least 25 percent. Because workers must pay a reasonable share of their premium, they're incentivized to be somewhat cost-conscious. Fortunately, this part of Insure Oklahoma has been temporarily preserved.

But changes in other areas are problematic. About 8,000 people with earnings above the federal poverty level will be tossed out of Insure Oklahoma's individual plans and onto federal health exchanges. Many will then get Obamacare tax subsidies, so taxpayer costs could actually increase.

Workers in Insure Oklahoma's individual program will face lower co-pays. They'll fork over only $4 for generic prescriptions and $8 for brand-name drugs, a decrease from $5 and $10, respectively. Instead of paying $10 to $25 in co-payments for outpatient services and doctor visits, they will now owe only $4.

by The Oklahoman Editorial Board
The Oklahoman Editorial Board consists of Gary Pierson, President and CEO of The Oklahoma Publishing Company; Christopher P. Reen, president and publisher of The Oklahoman; Kelly Dyer Fry, editor and vice president of news; Christy Gaylord...
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