Oct. 09--Oklahoma's insurance commissioner believes health insurance premiums will likely increase by an average of 76 percent for Oklahomans who buy individual coverage through the Affordable Care Act's marketplace. The increases for individual market plans range from 58 percent to 96 percent.
"These jaw-dropping increases make it clear that Oklahoma's exchange is on life support," said Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John D. Doak. "Health insurers are losing massive amounts of money. If they don't raise rates they'll go out of business. This system has been doomed from the beginning."
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Oklahoma, the only health insurer offering plans on the federal exchange in 2017, submitted the increases to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). CMS will determine if the increases are reasonable.
The Oklahoma Insurance Department does not have statutory authority to approve or deny rate premium increases for plans on the federal health insurance exchange. Oklahoma, along with Texas, Missouri, Alabama and Wyoming, is a direct enforcement state and has no authority to enforce provisions of the Affordable Care Act.
At the end of 2016, UnitedHealthcare will exit the individual market in Oklahoma. It had five percent of the state's 130,178 federal exchange enrollees for 2016. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Oklahoma had the other 95 percent. UnitedHealthcare enrollees will receive notices from CMS that they have been automatically enrolled into a similar exchange plan.
New businesses in Norman
The Norman Chamber of Commerce celebrated a ground-breaking and a ribbon cutting last week.
On Tuesday, Oct. 4, Hampton Inn and Suites held their groundbreaking at 2300 Conference Drive. The hotel is owned and managed by Kusum Hospitality.
The Chamber also celebrated a ribbon cutting for Tropical Smoothie Café at 156 12th Ave. SE Norman on the same day.
The Chamber's next event will be a Business After-hours event on Oct. 18 at Republic Bank and Trust on Main Street from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation receives high charity rating
Charity Navigator, the country's largest charity evaluator, has again awarded the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation its highest rating.
OMRF received a four-star rating, scoring 93.21 out of a possible 100, for demonstrating good financial health and a strong commitment to accountability and transparency.
"There's nothing we take more seriously than being a good steward of the donations we're entrusted with," said OMRF President Stephen Prescott. "Donors have a wide variety of charitable options, and we work hard to ensure their gifts are used for their intended purpose: finding new treatments for deadly diseases."
White House announces small business state-level investments
Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet, head of the U.S. Small Business Administration announced $18.85 million to support export growth among American small businesses. Oklahoma will receive $464,900.
The funding was awarded through SBA's competitive State Trade Expansion Program (STEP).
"Exporting provides tremendous opportunities for America's small businesses and entrepreneurs. Two-thirds of the world's purchasing power can be found outside of the United States, but only about one percent of America's 28 million small businesses are reaching customers beyond our borders," Contreras-Sweet said." Exporting is an important growth opportunity for our small businesses that are ready to expand their reach into new and increasingly borderless global markets."
These awards are granted to U.S. states and territories to support programs that help small businesses expand their export-related activities. This includes participation in foreign trade missions, foreign market sales trips, subscription services for access to international markets, as well as the design of international marketing campaigns, export trade show exhibits, export training workshops and more.
Recipients of STEP awards in the first three rounds (FY 2011, 2012, 2014) reported a strong return on federal taxpayer investment, generating $22 in U.S. small business export sales for every $1 awarded.
(c)2016 The Woodward News (Woodward, Okla.)
Visit The Woodward News (Woodward, Okla.) at woodwardnews.net
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.