More Indiana options coming on insurance exchange

 Indiana residents will have more than triple the number of health insurance plans to choose from when the federal insurance exchange enrollment period starts in November, according to a state official.

Indiana Department of Insurance attorney Tina Korty told a legislative panel Thursday that some insurers took a "wait-and-see" approach during the first year of the exchanges under the Affordable Care Act.

Nine companies will offer a total of 975 plans — not all will be available in every county — for Indiana residents on the federal exchange, she said. During the 2013-14 period, three companies offered 278 plans, The Times of Munster and the Post-Tribune reported.

"I think a lot of companies were waiting to see how the first year went," Korty said. "Also were seeing some smaller providers that may offer a policy in only a few counties."

Korty said a 5-percent average increase in exchange premiums is expected on Indiana policies.

Federal officials oversee Indiana's health insurance exchange, and Korty said some of the plans have less-than-ideal provider networks.

"In Allen County, the largest plan didn't include the local hospital," she said. "And in Monroe County, on one plan you can go to the local hospital but not to have a baby."

State Sen. Karen Tallian, D-Ogden Dunes, asked Korty whether Indiana should establish a state-run exchange, which would give it greater control than it has over the current one.

Korty said the Pence administration has concluded such a step wasn't worth the $40 million startup cost and the estimated $40 million annual operating expense.

Republican Rep. Tim Brown of Crawfordsville, chairman of the Legislature's Interim Study Committee on Fiscal Policy, called the exchange system a "high-risk endeavor."

"Until we have some assurance at the federal level that their tech part is OK, then that would put high risk to us at the state," Brown said.

Tallian said she's also concerned that many people won't be able to afford their health plans if Republican state Attorney General Greg Zoeller succeeds in a lawsuit filed last year seeking to deny federal premium assistance for plans purchased through Indiana's federally run marketplace.

Nearly 118,000 Indiana residents are receiving such federal assistance.

"I hope the General Assembly can stop this destructive silliness and establish an exchange in Indiana," Tallian said. "That will make Mr. Zoeller's lawsuit moot, and Indiana can get on with the business of getting people insured."

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