Some state lawmakers are expressing concern about the ability of West Virginians to sign up for the new health insurance exchange when it’s developed in the months to come.
The Tomblin administration has plans to join with the federal government on the establishment of an exchange, which is basically a health insurance market for individuals and businesses who don’t have health insurance.
State Senator Dan Foster, D-Kanawha, says it will be very important to get as many people enrolled in the exchange as possible.
“The member-per-month cost will go down the more people who are enrolled,” Foster said. “We need a better system to help those people to get enrolled.”
West Virginia Insurance Commissioner Mike Riley says there will be several ways to enroll including by telephone, through an insurance agent or over the internet.
Some lawmakers recently told Riley the state’s lack of broadband could hurt the enrollment numbers.
“The broadband outreach is obviously important to the success of this program because obviously that reaches more population,” Riley said.
The different insurance coverage options will also be available online to review.
Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin could have opted to allow the federal government to run the exchange for the state or the state could have set up the exchange itself. Riley says he believes the partnership approach is the best.
“If you go full federal all of the complaints go to the federal government,” he said. “With the partnership obviously we share that information.”
The governor’s office says as many as 60,000 state residents might opt for coverage through the health insurance exchange program.