Health care exchange fails to pass in MI House

State lawmakers abandoned an attempt to set up a state-run health care exchange last week, which could mean big changes for students purchasing health insurance in a few years for the first time.

Because the state House’s Health Policy Committee did not approve the bill, Michigan will have a joint partnership with the federal government in establishing and regulating the health care exchange.

The federal exchange, which is slated to go into effect in January 2014, is expected to provide an online system to compare the cost and benefits of health care systems.

Within a few years after graduation, many students will be turning to the new health care exchange system to find health insurance, a system similar to picking and comparing prices on Travelocity, said Jerry Kooiman, assistant dean in the College of Human Medicine and a former state representative.

Debbie Brinson, CEO and director of Ingham Community Health Centers, said the current generation of students will be the first to use the exchange, adding lawmakers have yet to even hammer out the details of the system.

According to the terms of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, young adults will be bumped from their parents’ health insurance at 26 years old. Brinson said before the act, young adults usually remained on their parents’ health insurance until between 19 and 21 years of age, but there was no mandate to ensure young adults were covered.

“The intent of this coverage was to give as many people coverage of some sort,” she said. “Often, young adults don’t have coverage (at all).”

Brinson said students will pick from health insurance levels ranging from bronze to platinum health insurance packages.

Platinum members will pay more out of pocket, but will receive more benefits while bronze members expect to hardly get sick, but still will be financially covered should they find themselves in the hospital.

Kooiman said the federal government tends to have a “one size fits all approach” for its regulation policies, which might not always fit the needs of Michigan residents.

He said the question now is how much influence the state will have in running the exchange.

“It would’ve made sense to keep it local and closer to the people,” Kooiman said, disagreeing with the committee’s decision. “It’s usually more effective that way.”’

Speaker of the House Jase Bolger, R-Marshall, said in a statement the committee expressed concern regarding what costs taxpayers might have to pay if the state controlled the health exchange, and ultimately, whether or not the state’s model eventually would be controlled by the federal government anyway.

Bolger said it was “understandable” why the committee did not vote in favor of the bill.

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