Louisiana Health Insurance Exchange Roll-Out Includes Some Interesting Questions

In November, 2012, Louisiana health officials declined to create a state-run exchange, leaving it to the federal government to operate a marketplace for Louisiana residents. Only recently has any real clarity on the structure of the Louisiana Health Insurance Exchange been available for its October 1, 2013 opening date.

There are 4 insurance plans being offered in Louisiana Health Insurance Exchange, but only 2 are being offered statewide.
1) Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana
2) Louisiana Health Cooperative (a non-profit company whose chief executive is Rep. Greg Cromer, who is also the chairman of the House Insurance Committee)
3) Vantage (Generally northeast Louisiana but offering plans in all but 10 parishes)
4) Humana (Jefferson Parish only)

Coventry Health Care was slated to be the third statewide participant, but after its recent acquisition by Aetna the company withdrew from the exchange on September 19, 2013.

With the participating insurers established, the interesting question will be how Louisiana citizens will participate in the exchange. Two primary questions have emerged: The first concern is how they will be able to navigate the exchange marketplace. House and Senate insurance committees approved state regulations to oversee four organizations splitting $1.8 million in federal grants for “navigators” to help with education and enrollment across the state, mostly notably $1.1 million to Southwest Louisiana Area Health Education Center. The second question is how many people will choose to participate in the exchange rather than pay the monetary penalty for failing to obtain health insurance under the individual mandate. The penalty for failure to obtain insurance in 2014 is only $95 (or 1% of household income), then $325 in 2015 (or 1.5% of household income) and then $695 (or 2% of household income) in 2016 and on. The answers to these questions will likely result in the relative success or failure of the implementation of the Affordable Care Act in Louisiana.

Written by: Stephen Angelette

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