Podcast: Representative Wants Opportunities for New Healthcare Plans

When it came to voting on a new bill that would change healthcare in N.C., Rep. Kevin Corbin’s past experience as owner of two insurance agencies made voting a difficult decision. The complexities of health insurance are his specialty, and he wants better for the people of North Carolina. On this week’s episode of “The Cost of Health,” Rep. Corbin shares his thoughts on non-ACA compliant plans, the failed House Bill 933, and two groups of people in N.C. who are paying too much in health insurance.

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Representative Kevin Corbin serves District 120, covering Cherokee, Clay, Graham, and Macon counties.

“The districts start at the coast and their numbers go all the way to the mountains, and we have a hundred and twenty districts total. So guess how far I am from the water?” Corbin jokes. “We're the farthest district in the state of North Carolina. District 120 touches Tennessee and Georgia.”

He also owns Corbin Insurance Agency and Blue Ridge Insurance Group, which gives him an insight into the world of health insurance that other representatives may not have. Rep. Corbin was sworn into his first term in the House of Representatives in January 2017, and has already used his insurance background when casting votes. With his background, he is very familiar with the health insurance needs of North Carolinians, and notes that there are some people that are more affected than others due to high insurance premiums.

“There are really two groups of people that are affected differently because of health insurance premiums,” Corbin shares. “Just the raw premiums have basically doubled in the past five years and the provisions of the Affordable Care Act have made premiums go up, because plans have to be covered. But for about 90% of our customers, we are able to get them a tax credit through the Affordable Care Act when we go to the marketplace. So for most people that are on the Affordable Care Act plans, they're actually paying less in premiums than they were before -- that's the good news.

The bad news is if you make just over the amount that qualifies you for a tax credit, you’re having to pay that full premium, and those are pretty astronomical in some cases. There's a sliver of the population that’s paying a lot more money for health insurance. There's got to be some answers down the road for that.

There are two groups that are underserved -- the ones that make just over the amount for the tax credit and the ones that make just under. [The ones under] don’t get a tax credit either, but unlike their counterparts on the other end of the income scale, the ones on the lower end of the income scale can't pay $2,000 a month for a family. They don’t make $2,000 a month.”

In June of this year, House Bill 933 was presented for a vote. The amended House Bill 933 introduced the possibility of nonprofit groups offering plans that functioned similarly to insurance, but were not regulated as insurance. This was designed to help North Carolinians struggling with the costs of ACA compliant health care plans. 

Corbin did not vote for House Bill 933, but he feels that something like the plan it proposed may provide relief for his constituents. Farm Bureau (an NCCFH coalition member) was a supporter of the bill. The company wanted to bring relief to their members by offering plans that were not regulated by the insurance commission in North Carolina. Having been in the insurance business for so many years, Corbin understands the complications of healthcare. Those details are what swayed him away from voting for the bill.

“It was a great idea and then I certainly support Farm Bureau in that thought,” Corbin says. But more conversations are needed before anything can happen. Since the federal government removed the health insurance penalty, there’s an opportunity to develop plans outside of the ACA. These plans may come with high deductibles or limitations. But first those plans need time to be developed.

“Namely that I think there's an opportunity to develop some non-ACA plans. Some of the things that we like about the ACA are also the things that make ACA plans expensive. [If we have an] opportunity to develop some medically underwritten plans again -- and those will not comply with the ACA -- there's a possibility of [creating plans] for our citizens that could possibly serve both those groups that are being underserved.”

But while this bill did not pass, it doesn’t mean it is a dead issue.

“I was just really sort of afraid of the plans that would not be regulated by the insurance commission,” Corbin says. “I think the reason for that is so they wouldn't be quote insurance plans and wouldn't be subject to the ACA. It came up so quickly. From being in the business and understanding all the intricacies of underwriting -- I had spoken to a couple of actuaries in the past couple of weeks, and actually gotten some different opinions even from them, so it just felt like it was almost rushing into it. If you noticed on the legislation that was to be effective January 1st, 2020, so we can still come back in January. We got a year to do that, so no rush.  I think that's a great idea and I think it's got some potential. I just didn't feel comfortable [with the rush].”

To listen to this week’s episode, and learn more about the recent House Bill 933, download our podcast here, or listen to the full interview below.

If you have a story to share about the impact of healthcare costs on your family or business, let us know at michael@fiscalhealthnc.com or on twitter @michaelck.

As our state and federal legislators work to fix our broken healthcare system, it is important that decisions are not rushed, but also not overlooked. 

Past (and future) episodes of our podcast “The Cost of Health” are available for download. Visit here, or listen and subscribe on your favorite podcast app.

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