How Kansas' decision to not set up state-run exchange affects residents
Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback remains opposed to the Affordable Care Act, even as some other Republican Governors have accepted the new health insurance programs in their states.
Brownback and the Kansas Legislature decided not to set up a state-run exchange. Instead, the federal government will oversee it.
Brownback and the legislature's decision not to set up a state-based insurance exchange shouldn't affect resident's rates.
"The federal government, HHS, Health and Human Services at the federal level will run the exchange in Kansas," said Sandy Praeger, the Kansas commissioner of insurance. "But we've worked closely with them to make sure that it will be ready to meet the needs of Kansans."
The state still has the authority to review rates and approve plans in the marketplace year-by-year.
"The only ability for HHS to do anything on rates is if they thought the rates were excessive," Praeger said.
But when it comes to care, Kansas and Missouri residents may have fewer insurance carriers to choose from.
"Perhaps companies stayed out of some states, stayed out of the federal exchange, just because of the uncertainty," Praeger said.
Kansas Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer said most Kansans will only have two insurance companies to choose from under the federal exchange in Kansas.
"Originally we were told that it was going to be a place where there was going to be lots of choices for people. Unfortunately for Kansas, the insurance exchange is only going to have two insurers on it," Praeger said.
Colyer, who's a physician with his own practice in Overland Park, KS, said he fears transactions could take longer, and people could be denied a benefit they're entitled to.
"We're now starting to insert more people between you and your doctor. I think all Kansans believe we should be making those decisions locally, and that we should make those here in our communities rather than in Washington," he said.
Another concern is some Kansans who thought they'd finally be covered to see a doctor won't be. Twenty-six states accepted the Medicaid expansions proposed with the law, but Kansas did not.
"The reason why, is it's going to cost the state of Kansas taxpayers $600 million over the next few years," Colyer said.
The choice by Kansas will leave an estimated 130,000 to 150,000 Kansans uninsured.
"So we're going to still have folks below the poverty level that won't make enough to qualify to go on the exchange to get financial assistance and yet don't have any kind of assistance, because the Medicaid expansion didn't occur in Kansas," Praeger said.
The Kansas Insurance Commission has put together a video that walks you through the whole process of buying insurance. Click here for a link to it.
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