The Lead

On 2-year anniv. of Pa’s healthcare exchange, officials urge uninsured residents to sign up for coverage

By: - August 11, 2021 12:30 pm

House Speaker Bryan Cutler speaks to reporters Wed., Aug. 11, 2021

State House Speaker Bryan Cutler and the Wolf administration celebrated the two-year anniversary of Pennsylvania’s state health care exchange on Wednesday, while encouraging uninsured Pennsylvanians to sign up for subsidized coverage.

In 2019, the General Assembly passed, with just a single dissenting vote, a bill to create a state-run health care marketplace under the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

Policymakers, including Cutler, R-Lancaster, and state Insurance Commissioner Jessica Altman, said at the time that the Pennsylvania exchange would help drive down health care costs.

Two years on, the two said that their expectations had been met.

“Unfortunately, when government works together, when the issues are not clearly split along party lines, and when we as policymakers deliver on our promises … that sometimes isn’t considered a good story,” Cutler said Wednesday.

So far, 336,000 people have signed up for health insurance through the state exchange, named Pennie. Of those, 60,000 have signed up during a special enrollment period that started in February and ends Sunday, Aug. 15, from the federal American Rescue Plan.

Those who have signed up pay an average $86 monthly premium. That number is lower than usual due to expanded federal health care subsidies in the federal stimulus.

On top of these stimulus-related savings for exchange customers, all Pennsylvanians have been paying lower premiums due to the exchange, Altman said. 

Pa.’s marketplace change, explained: Why a health insurance proposal easily won bipartisan support

Pennsylvania premiums were about 5 percent lower this year than last, she added, and likely would have gone up without the state’s reinsurance plan from the exchange. 

Reinsurance is a program in which a government steps in to help pay the insurance costs of very sick individuals to keep insurance costs overall down.

Officials encouraged Pennsylvanians to use Pennie to find insurance before Sunday to qualify for the lower, federally subsidized premiums before the enrollment period ends.

Normal enrollment will restart in November. 

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Stephen Caruso
Stephen Caruso

Stephen Caruso is a former senior reporter with Pennsylvania Capital-Star. Before working with the Capital-Star he covered Pennsylvania state government for The PLS Reporter.