New Mexicans predicted to pay less for healthcare

Posted at: 08/30/2013 6:45 PM
By: Ryan Luby, KOB Eyewitness News 4

A national think-tank believes New Mexicans could pay as much as 40 percent less for healthcare under the Affordable Care Act, scheduled to go into effect in January.

The RAND Corporation released the results of a study it conducted to find out how the act could affect insurance premiums across the country.

New Mexico was one of ten states analyzed.

Researchers believe individual insurance plans in New Mexico will experience lowered rates, while group insurance premiums will remain unchanged.

However, officials with New Mexico’s insurance exchange program – who are still in the process of setting up the exchange, set to go online in October – said savings will amount to 10-percent across the board for all types of insurance plans.

Regardless of the difference, uninsured New Mexicans are pleased to hear the news.

“I think it’s a good thing,” Jason Logan said.  “I live on the streets.”

Logan said he lost his job a few years ago and has been unable to find affordable medical care on his own.  KOB Eyewitness News 4 spoke with him outside a public health clinic in northeast Albuquerque as he was seeking discount blood work.

Anne and Patrick Haskins also hope for more savings.  Patrick is uninsured as he waits to enroll on Anne’s healthcare plan in November.

“The cost of health insurance is skyrocketing,” Anne said.

They worry that more people covered by health insurance could cause more problems.

“If more people are going to qualify for insurance, what is that going to do to the quality of healthcare that we’re receiving,” Anne said.  “The quality of healthcare is going to go down the tubes.”

In the South Valley, leaders of First Choice Community Healthcare applaud the Affordable Care Act.

“Approximately 25 percent of the people who come to care have no coverage whatsoever,” CEO Bob DeFelice said.

He believes the health insurance exchange, albeit still confusing to taxpayers, will cause premiums to drop.

“The approach is [likely] going to be more focused towards prevention and primary care.  If it is, I think you are going to see less cost in terms of provision of care for individuals,” he said.

Dr. J.R. Damron, chairman of New Mexico’s health exchange board, said the exchange will include five insurers – a co-op called New Mexico Health Connections, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Presbyterian, Lovelace and Molina.  Collectively, he said they’ll offer roughly 80 different plans.

After Labor Day, Damron said the state will roll out a large public service campaign to explain how the health exchange will work.

He said New Mexicans will have until March 31 to enroll in some sort of insurance plan as required by the Affordable Care Act.  He expects roughly 80,000 people to sign onto the exchange.

Insurance plans through the act go into effect on January 1.

The RAND Corporation was unavailable to comment on the results of its study on Friday.

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