Oklahomans Split On Healthcare Exchange Decision

Monday, November 19th 2012, 9:57 pm
By: News On 6

Governor Mary Fallin has taken another step to try to shut down the Affordable Care Act.

She announced Monday the state will not create its own health insurance exchange, so now it's up to the federal government.

There are still a lot of questions when it comes to the healthcare reform law.

Those who agree with the governor's decision say this will help keep Obamacare out of Oklahoma.

Others say we shouldn't have given up the power to make our own decisions.

Under the Affordable Care Act, everyone must be insured. That means all employers must provide coverage to their employees or pay a fine.

11/19/2012 Related Story: Federal Healthcare Act Faces Opposition In Oklahoma

The administration has said everyone who needs insurance should be able to find their own policy easily. That's where health insurance exchanges come into play.

"The thinking there is a lot more people will be needing to buy insurance for themselves," said Dr. David Kendrick, of OU's School of Community Medicine. "Health Insurance Exchange is really nothing more than an online marketplace."

Some insurance agents say Governor Fallin's decision to default to the federal government may not have been the best move.

"Agents like myself that concentrate in that area, we're very nervous," said insurance agent Roger Flippo.

Flippo said it would have been better for agents and Oklahomans if the state set up its own online database.

"The argument for doing a state developed plan or exchange is we could tweak it and make it a little bit more Oklahoma and maybe even add more choices to it than what the federal government's plan is going to be," Flippo said.

6/28/2012 Related Story: Oklahoma Lawmaker Explains Insurance Exchanges

Regardless of who sets up the exchange, Flippo said it'll be a good tool for uninsured people. He said the federal government will pay all start up fees, and then it's up to the state to find money for day-to-day operations.

This is something that doesn't sit well with Green Country lawmaker, State Representative Mike Ritze.

"There's only one way to fund it: Raise taxes, and the taxes right now are so high that we don't have the accounting and transparency of where the money is actually going," Ritze said. "Basically the exchanges are a back door approach to the Obamacare law."

The exchanges are supposed to be up and running by the first of the year.

Oklahoma is the 16th state to refuse to set up its own health care exchange, and 11 states still need to make a decision.