louisiana guide to health insurance

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Louisiana health insurance exchange

LA: one new insurer, but higher rates

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The upcoming open enrollment period begins Nov. 15, and it offers another opportunity for the 751,000 Louisiana residents who — according to the U.S. Census Bureau — don’t have health insurance. Louisiana’s 16.6 percent uninsured rate is higher than the national average of 13.4 percent.

One new insurer is joining the marketplace in Louisiana. Despite the increase in competition, several carriers who sell exchange policies are increasing their rates for the upcoming coverage year.

Subsidies will help temper the impact of those increases for many consumers who shop on the marketplace. For the 2014 coverage year, 88 percent of Louisiana residents who signed up for private health insurance received financial assistance, and their average monthly premium after subsidies was $83 according to a federal report.

Rates and carriers for 2015

The number of insurance companies selling through the marketplace in Louisiana will grow from five to six in 2015 according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. UnitedHealthcare, the nation’s largest health insurance company, will join the marketplace in Louisiana and about 20 other states. United took a very conservative approach in 2014, participating in just five states.

The Times-Picayune reported that double-digit rate increases have been approved for several insurers. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana rates will go up between 18.3 percent and 19.7 percent. Humana’s rates are increasing 9.9 percent, while Vantage Health Plan is increasing its rates 15.9 percent.

2014 enrollment recap

During 2014 open enrollment, 101,778 Louisiana residents — about one in five of those eligible — signed up for a qualified health plan (QHP) according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. In addition to those purchasing private insurance, 14,359 people qualified for either Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) under existing eligibility criteria.

Exchange implementation in Louisiana

Louisiana is among the 26 states that left all responsibility for its health insurance marketplace to the federal government. Gov. Bobby Jindal repeatedly rejected a state-run exchange and even returned a $1 million federal planning grant. Jindal also rejected Medicaid expansion in the state, a decision that leaves 34 percent of uninsured Louisiana adults in the coverage gap, which means can’t get help through Medicaid nor do they qualify for subsidies to purchase insurance through marketplace. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 866,000 Louisiana residents are uninsured and almost 242,000 of them are shut out of both Medicaid and subsidies to purchase insurance through the marketplace. The decision against Medicaid expansion affects not only uninsured individuals, but also Louisiana healthcare providers and its overall economy. The state provided $18 million in stopgap funding in late August when Baton Rouge General Mid City Hospital announced it would close its emergency room due to the expense of providing uncompensated care for the uninsured. An Urban Institute study says Louisiana is losing out on $15.8 billion in funding between 2013 and 2022 by not expanding Medicaid, while contributing $5.7 billion in taxes over the same period that will be used states that have expanded.

Louisiana health insurance exchange links


State Exchange Profile: Louisiana
The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation overview of Louisiana’s progress toward creating a state health insurance exchange.

Louisiana Department of Insurance, Office of Health Insurance
Assists consumers who have purchased insurance on the individual market or who have insurance through an employer who only does business in Louisiana.
(225) 219-4770 / Toll Free: (800) 259-5301