HealthLeaders-InterStudy, the leading provider of managed care marketing intelligence, reports that while Texas lawmakers continue to wrestle with exactly what the state government might do to reduce the state's burgeoning uninsured ranks, insurers are stepping up with products to fill the void. According to the latest Texas Health Plan Analysis, with an uninsured rate of 24.2 percent, according to 2005 U.S. Census Bureau estimates, there's a market for insurance products designed to attract the many Texans who are uninsured.
Texas has high levels of poverty, its Medicaid program is among the most restrictive in the country, and the economy historically has not forced employers to offer health coverage in order to attract and retain workers. While most Americans are on health benefit plans through their employers, in Texas the employer culture is a bit different, with many small businesses not offering insurance to their employees. It's a culture insurers are trying to reach out and change.
Humana's 'No Worry' product is the most recent offering to the market, which became available January 1 in Dallas/Fort Worth and Houston, targeting businesses with between 51-99 employees. Employers may select one of 13 three- year packages, with each package presenting a combination of predetermined health insurance plans for years one, two and three. Humana guarantees the annual premium rate increase for medical insurance will not exceed six percent for the two subsequent years.
"This product could be a good solution for small employers in Texas who struggle with rate increases every year," states Ric Gross, HealthLeaders- InterStudy market analyst and author of the report.
The Texas Blues are targeting middle-income uninsured Texans in the individual market. The insurer worked with the Houston Uninsured Task Force last spring and summer to develop an inpatient hospital product, the Foundation Hospital Care Plan, specifically designed to cover catastrophic events. The individually rated product features premiums running from $15-$115 monthly, dependent on age and gender, with a lifetime maximum of $2 million in coverage.
The Texas Blues also recently completed an online promotion to benefit Project Access Dallas, a program devoted to helping provide basic healthcare services to uninsured residents of Dallas County. With this promotion, held between November 29, 2006, and March 1, 2007, the insurer donated $1 to Project Access Dallas for each member who logged in to Blue Access for Members web site and chose to receive electronic versions of their explanation of benefits statements instead of paper versions. More than 13,000 members made the switch to receive these electronic benefits statements.
"Having been a supporter of Project Access for several years, the Texas Blues essentially kill two birds with one stone - lowering their administrative costs by not sending out paper explanation of benefit forms and also doing something good in the community at the same time," Gross adds.
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