Oklahoma Health Bill Would Ease Required Coverage Laws
TULSA, Oklahoma - A debate in the state legislature could affect anyone with health insurance.
It would create more competition between insurance companies - and eliminate some requirements on what they're required to cover.
All health insurance plans cover routine checkups and prescriptions - because that's required by state law.
A bill near approval in the legislature could take away minimum requirements for health insurance plans - allowing bare bones policies that would cost less.
"If we allow our legislature to take away the existing consumer protections we're going backwards," said Kate Richey with Oklahoma Policy:
The Oklahoma Policy Institute believes that's going to result in health care plans that don't meet basic needs.
"They don't offer the most basic health care that we would all expect our health insurance to cover," Richey said.
The change is part of a bill to allow out of state companies to sell insurance in Oklahoma.
The bill's author says the extra competition will lower cost, especially for people who only want a policy that covers major medical expenses.
"This is just to create a marketplace for someone who feels like they never use their plan, they don't go to the doctor, they don't have prescription drugs needs, they don't have a need for many of the services in the plan," said Senator Bill Brown, R-Broken Arrow.
Brown says bare bones coverage is all some people need - but they can't choose now to have insurance that only covers catastrophic care.
Critics believe the state shouldn't back off the current standards.
"We think that rather than doing that, keep the protections for consumers and just ask the out of state companies to abide by our laws," Richey said.
Brown believes more people will buy insurance because if they don't have chronic problems - they'll be able to buy insurance at lower cost.
"And this is going to allow this person who doesn't fit those categories to go in and buy something as a much more competitive price," Senator Brown said.
The bill's author says during his career in insurance - low cost, basic coverage was the number one request. This would change the definition of basic coverage.
The same basic bill has passed the senate and house. Now they're working on a compromise.