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OK Legislature Keeps Interstate Health Insurance Bill Viable

Following a tiebreaker vote in the Oklahoma House Insurance Committee, a bill offering interstate health insurance for consumers continues through state legislature.

OK legislative keeps interstate health insurance bill viable

Source: Thinkstock

By Thomas Beaton

A bill that would allow interstate health insurance options for Oklahoma residents is still on the table following a House committee vote.

Senate Bill 478, or the Health Care Choice Act, would authorize Oklahoma’s Insurance Commissioner to pursue insurance compacts with other states. Those compacts then allow other state insurers to sell specified coverage within Oklahoma, not needing a certificate of authority to do so.

The vote took place within the House Insurance Committee, where House Speaker Harold Wright was brought in to break a 6-6 tie. The committee vote followed an initial passing vote in the state senate, 34-4.

Currently, the only states that offer interstate health insurance include Rhode Island, Wyoming, Georgia, Kentucky, and Maine. Interstate health insurance does always guarantee the best possible coverage options for consumers, regardless of more coverage choice.

Lawmakers proposed the bill on the grounds of improving access to care and offering geographically flexibility health insurance options for consumers.

“The Oklahoma Legislature recognizes the need for individuals, employers, and other purchasers of health insurance coverage in this state to have the opportunity to choose health insurance plans that are more affordable and flexible than existing market policies offering accident and health coverage,” the bill states.

“Therefore, the Oklahoma Legislature seeks to increase the availability of health insurance coverage by allowing insurers authorized to engage in the business of insurance in other states to issue accident and health policies in Oklahoma.”

While the bill offers a chance for a higher amount of healthcare channels for state residents, these new plans are standardized by the state where they are hosted.

Out-of-state insurers would be exempt from mandatory health benefits required by the Oklahoma government. However, these insurers most comply with other Oklahoma insurance statutes and provide detailed accounts of premium incomes, capital and surplus, along with the amount of claims paid within Oklahoma.

"The benefits of this policy providing your coverage are governed primarily by the law of a state other than Oklahoma,” the bill explains.

“While this health benefit plan may provide you a more affordable health insurance policy; it may also provide fewer health benefits than those normally included as state-mandated health benefits in policies in Oklahoma. Please consult with your insurance agent to determine which Oklahoma state-mandated health benefits are excluded under this policy."

Before the bill was brought to the House Insurance Committee, legislators conducted a fiscal analysis with an outline of limitations for interstate insurers. The law makers concluded that spending is predicted to be minimal should the Health Care Choice Act pass.

“The measure allows the Commissioner to enter into insurance compacts with other states, thus travel expenses would be an impact,” the legislators stated. “Travel expenses, are anticipated to be minimal and would be absorbed into the agency’s existing budget.”


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