91.7 Ann Arbor/Detroit 104.1 Grand Rapids 91.3 Port Huron 89.7 Lansing 91.1 Flint
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Insurance companies apply to provide Affordable Care Act coverage to Michiganders

Medical diagnostic equipment
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

  More than a dozen insurance companies want to be part of a health care exchange that provides coverage to Michiganders under the new federal health care law.

Blue Cross Blue Shield, Humana, McLaren, United Healthcare and ten other insurance companies have applied to be part of the new health care exchange.

Beginning in October, Michiganders will be able to use a federally run exchange to compare the health care plans.  It’s all part of the Affordable Care Act, also known as "Obamacare," which takes effect in 2014.

Vishnu Lekraj is an insurance industry analyst with Morningstar, an investment research firm. He expects many of the plans will restrict where patients can get health care, leaving some consumers with a difficult choice between money and medicine.

“If they want to go with an insurance company or if they want to go with a plan that will provide them with access to their doctor,” says Lekraj. 

Lekraj says many insurance companies have been locking hospitals and doctors into exclusive deals. Patients who use those in the insurance carrier’s system will get discounts. He says out-of-system hospitals and doctors would cost more or would not automatically be covered.

Gov. Snyder and many businesses in Michigan wanted a state run health care exchange, which would have given Michigan more control of the health care plans being offered. But Republican state lawmakers said no because of concerns about the federal health care law.

Karin Gyger is the Affordable Care Act ombudsperson for the state of Michigan. She says they haven’t had time yet to review the insurance companies’ applications. 

Gyger is confident that the exchange will encourage lower prices through competition.

“Knowing that other companies are trying to compete for that business,” Gyger says, “we’re anticipating that their pricing will be set to compete with their competitors.”

She says anyone confused by the Affordable Care Act in the state of Michigan can call 877-999-6442.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.