Rick Perry, Governor of the Lone Star State, has again stirred up the nation with his bi-national health insurance plan for Texas. This was first proposed way back in August 2001 at a U.S.-Mexico Border Summit. At the summit, Perry said, “The effort to combat disease and illness requires greater cooperative efforts between our two nations.” The bi-national insurance plan was Gov. Perry’s attempt to decrease the uninsured rate and to deal with the state’s excessive lack of preventive health care, such as childhood immunizations.
The plan was never meant to merge the health systems of Texas and Mexico. It would allow private health insurance companies to provide coverage to both Mexican and U.S. citizens living within 62 miles of the borders. According to a report from the Texas State Senate, 26 percent of the state’s population needs health coverage and the need is greatest along the border. Texas has the largest percentage of uninsured of all the states.
A study was prepared to evaluate the feasibility of a bi-national system, but no legislative attempts were made to overcome numerous barriers. The idea may not go any farther this time.
Texas Health Insurance Premiums Did Not Track Malpractice Premiums
Another study has shed new light on how the 2003 limits on damages in medical malpractice cases have impacted Texas health insurance. The group Public Citizen released a report showing that both health care costs and Texas health insurance premiums have risen since tort reform, and premiums are rising at a higher rate that the national average.
Texas’ malpractice legislation didn’t limit economic damages in medical malpractice suits, but it did limit damages for pain and suffering to $250,000 per provider up to a maximum of $750,000 total. Medical malpractice insurance premiums did drop dramatically, so why weren’t the savings passed back to patients?
Medical malpractice payments fell by 65 percent from 2003 until 2010. The state’s biggest malpractice insurer dropped premiums by 50 percent over that period.
Health Insurance For Texas Has Expanded Coverage
There has been some good news. Federal health care reform required TX health insurance plans to pay for preventive health care through network providers without charging policyholders anything. That means co-insurance or co-pays and you don’t need to meet a deductible before preventive care is covered.
Since this preventive care is covered even before you meet a plan’s deductible, any high-deductible plans will provide that coverage. That includes the very highest-deductible policies, which have the lowest premiums.
The preventive care services include Immunizations and screening procedures for the most common diseases that can lead to premature death, such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease. That kind of care is available with no out-of-pocket costs from providers in the plan’s network of doctors.
Finding a high-deductible plan with an affordable premium may take some research, though. Insurance companies charge different premiums for similar plans, so compare prices and coverage just you would when shopping for any major investment. The future of TX health insurance is still unknown, but policies purchased after reform do cover more.