A report from the Center for Rural Affairs finds so-called health insurance marketplaces, part of the federal health care law, will benefit rural residents and rural families. Jon Bailey, the center’s director for research and analysis, says the study shows some of the critical considerations going into setting up state health insurance exchanges.
“They’re mostly designed for the uninsured, small businesses and people who buy insurance through the individual insurance market,” Bailey says. “Those are all populations that are in rural communities in large numbers. Farmers and ranchers almost exclusively purchase their insurance through the individual market.” In the report called, “Health Insurance Exchanges That Work for Rural,” Bailey says people who are self-employed or who run small businesses can go to the marketplace and see which plan works for their needs.
He says, “It’s hoped that these marketplaces will provide a means of people to shop for insurance, compare products and find the best one in terms of coverage and price for themselves and their family.” Bailey says the programs aren’t being rolled out yet.
“It’s still being worked on so I think people are hearing these are coming in a couple of years,” Bailey says. “This is how the health insurance marketplace is going to be structured through these exchanges, so I think there is some level of confusion.” Bailey says several benefits of the plan will work in rural areas, including an outreach where there is a challenge reaching those in need of health care plans.
He says the Affordable Care Act also allows for geography to be used as one of the factors an insurance company may take into account when assigning ratings. “There are a lot of potential benefits to this,” Bailey says. “It will open up a way for more people to get health insurance than we currently have and that’s been the experience in states that already have these types of exchange marketplaces already.”
Bailey says rural residents have unique circumstances that must be addressed in the development of exchanges, particularly when dealing with low-income rural residents. The Center for Rural Affairs is based in Lyons, Nebraska.