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Monday, September 16, 2013

Need health insurance? It may depend on where you live

     In a couple of weeks the new Obamacare legislation takes effect with Marylanders being able to sign up for one of the new health care policies offered in the new health exchanges.  While many of us were disappointed that a public option was dropped in getting this legislation passed, the start of the new exchanges will provide new choices for those who are presently uninsured.  The uncertainty of the success of the new exchanges is primarily focused on whether the young, healthy uninsured will join the exchanges.   There is uncertainty because the penalties for not buying insurance is considerably lower than buying the insurance for many young persons.  Their sense of not needing insurance is one of the hurdles that this program has to overcome.  This younger, healthy population is important as a balance in offering insurance to the persons with disabilities who have been unable to buy insurance because of their pre-existing conditions.
      Another uncertainty of how successful the new health care programs will be is that many states with Republican governors and legislatures have decided to not participate in the new broader Medicaid program eligibilities that come with  heavy Federal subsidies.  They also have decided to let the Federal Government set up their health exchanges rather than promote the benefits of the new coverages.  Their political beliefs and ambitions seem to outweigh their interest in providing a benefit to their citizens.  This is nothing new in many of these states who have some of the highest rates of poverty and number of uninsured in the Country.  With the visit this week of Texas Gov. Rick Perry to Maryland it might be a good time to ask him what plans he has to improved health care in his state. Just as the states that have approved marriage equality legislation, the differences in state participation in providing health care to its citizens will be a new economic driver for business as the differences in state tax rates.  This might benefit Maryland greatly in our competition with Virginia for business.
     Here in Maryland Gov. O'Malley and the Maryland Legislature has been moving to improve the health care insurance available to Marylanders.  Look for commercials on Baltimore Ravens and Orioles games in the next few weeks.  Our state has aggressively worked to make our health care exchange successful.  While Howard County has the best health outcome ranking in Maryland some of the Eastern Shore and Western Maryland Counties will benefit the most from the new Maryland Health Care Exchange.  Of course this is ironically the areas that continue to vote for legislators who oppose the new program.

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