Monday, July 22, 2013

SD Gets a Little Closer To Offer Insurance To More People

No, this is not news that the Governor has changed his mind about expanding medicaid, despite the fact that it would save the state millions of dollars that the Governor could add to his rainy day fund.  

The South Dakota insurance regulators have approved three insurance companies to be a part of the SD insurance exchange: Sanford Health Plan, Avera Health Plan, and DAKOTACARE.  I am sure that these won't be the only companies on the exchange (I least I hope not).  The more competition between the companies means better rates for the public.  

I do find it interesting that South Dakota's leader in the market, Wellmark (Blue Cross and Blue Shield), has not been approved.  The currently have over 58% of the market share in South Dakota.  It is dangerous when one company can have so much of the market share because it destroys the basic concept of the free market, and that is bad for South Dakota.

When a firm has more than a 42 percent share of a single market, the U.S. Justice Department considers that market to be “highly concentrated.” This means that an insurer could raise premiums and/or reduce the variety of plans or quality of services offered to customers with impunity. 
As for the cost of the plans, we will have to wait until Saturday to see what they are
Melissa Klemann, assistant director of life and health insurance, said rates for the approved insurance plans would be available Saturday on the state’s Insurance Division’s website, .
Even then it could be hard to directly compare prices out of the gate, we have seen in states that have plenty of competition, rates are kept lower.

Now if we could get the Governor to listen to the doctors and expand Medicaid.  
Heinemann, a chief medical officer at Sanford Health, said the need to expand is clear.
“What’s an able-bodied individual? Those are the working poor in South Dakota,” Heinemann said. “I think our members are concerned about their patients’ access to health care. In this country that’s how we’ve chosen to pay for health care — through insurance or programs like Medicaid.”

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