Texas Health Insurance Companies Receive Federal Push To Cover More People
With the highest rate of uninsured (26.9 percent of Texans do not have health insurance)
and dangerously-high levels of air pollution, Texas stands to benefit most from healthcare reform. The law that President Obama signed in March is on track to end discrimination against sick people. In 2014, people who aren't insured through work will be allowed to purchase directly from an Exchange. Members of Congress will also be receiving their health insurance through Exchanges and that offers some assurance of quality for the rest of us.
Immediate Access to Health Insurance in Texas
Since July 1st, eligible Texan residents have been able to apply to the state's Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan with the help of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. To apply, you must be in the U.S. legally and have been uninsured for six months or more due to a pre-existing health problem. With this new coverage, people will have hospital care, medicine and primary and specialty doctor care for pre-existing conditions. Still, their out-of-pocket costs could reach as much as $5,950 per year even when they stay within the plan's network of providers.
Kathleen Sebelius, as the Health and Human Services Secretary, doesn't want insurance companies to wait until the 2014 mandate is here. She's already pushing for them to cover more people during the next three years.
Coming Attractions in Healthcare Reform
With media coverage focused more on controversy than details, several provisions of the health care law remain relatively unknown. As of September 23rd in 2010, recommended immunizations will be free. In addition, insurers will no longer be allowed to charge co-pays or deductibles for certain preventive services. That includes screenings for breast cancer, high cholesterol and some sexually-transmitted diseases.
Not all policies may offer these benefits immediately, though. The changes apply to plan years beginning after September 23rd. That means the changes may not show up until new plan years begin after January 1st of 2011.
Will Texas Health Insurance Premiums Rise?
Federal regulators are still working out which rate hikes should be deemed unreasonable, but Texas could block insurers from selling their policies on the 2014 health insurance Exchanges to keep them in line.
A different approach is also being pursued to keep costs and premiums low. A nonprofit research institute is comparing medical treatments to determine which are most effective, and hence the most worthy of our resources. While the findings will not require doctors or insurers to change their treatment plans, this may give us all a practical guide to what's really working and what's not helping very much.
Why Texas Needs Greater Access to Medical Care
Texans, particularly in Calhoun County, stand to benefit most from governmental pressure to insure more people. That county has been called the most polluted place in the nation, with the lifetime risk of cancer from diesel soot so high that it exceeds the risk of all other airborne toxins combined. The EPA has set an acceptable cancer level as one in a million, but for residents of Calhoun County, their risk is 124 times greater than that. Their cancer risk with respect to diesel soot is one in 8,033.
In six months or less, Texas health insurance should begin to offer more for the money. Recommended immunizations will become available at no cost. Insurers will no longer charge co-pays or impose deductibles for certain preventive screenings. This means that Texas health insurance will begin giving people more access to preventive methods that can make disease easier and less expensive to treat. And, that's just the beginning of changes in our healthcare. Now it's more worthwhile than ever to stay on top of what health insurance is offering in the years to come.
by: Wiley Long
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