Health Insurance in Oklahoma: Patients hit with country’s highest insurance rate hikes

Health Insurance Skyrocketing in Oklahoma: Highest Rate Hikes in the Country

Middle class families in Oklahoma are facing sky-rocketing health insurance premiums.

In 2017, patients enrolled in Oklahoma’s health insurance marketplace will pay health insurance premiums that are 76 percent higher. That’s on top of the 35 percent premium increase from 2015.

Money Magazine named Oklahoma to its list of states with the worst insurance rate hikes., reports that “Oklahoma’s average rate increase for the individual market is by far the highest in the country for 2017.”

“These jaw-dropping increases make it clear that Oklahoma’s exchange is on life support,” Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John D. Doak told “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.”

Oklahoma Health Insurance Monopoly Pays Million-Dollar Bonuses While Raising Rates

Part of the problem in Oklahoma: an insurance monopoly.

Patients that purchase health insurance through the Affordable Care Act marketplace have only one choice: Blue Cross Blue Shield of Oklahoma.

That insurance company might sound familiar. In 2015, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Oklahoma’s parent company — Health Care Service Corp. — paid just 10 executives a total of $56.7 million. In total, these non-profit insurance executives made $48 million just from bonuses, while raising rates on patients in Oklahoma.

Patients Rising Perspective: Oklahoma health care getting more expensive — and getting worse

Here at Patients Rising, our co-founder and policy director Jonathan Wilcox recently shared his insights into the challenges facing patients in Oklahoma.

“Could it be any clearer that patients aren’t getting what they’re looking for from the institutions that claim to serve them?” he asked in a piece published at The Oklahoman. “This is what is known as a national emergency.”

“Fundamentally, this isn’t just the patient’s fight, or only their doctor’s cause. The advocacy community must lend its voice of concern to this obvious policy problem, insist on comprehensive reform and bring an end to what is obviously health care’s secret scandal. And lawmakers must listen.”

Patients Stories: Struggling with Sky-High Insurance Rates

Local and national media outlets are sharing the stories of patients, who are struggling with how to pay their sky-high health insurance premiums.

The Wall Street Journal shares the story of Tawni Phelan of Oklahoma City, who will see her insurance premiums double next year. “The new premium, about $974 a month, “would be a struggle” for Ms. Phelan, a 43-year-old who is self-employed, and her husband.”

The Oklahoman has the scoop on police retirees and widows who will see their insurance premiums rise 56 percent.

What Patients in Oklahoma Are Saying about Health Care

According to a recently released national and statewide survey from the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease, here are what patients in Oklahoma are saying about their health care:

  • 89 percent of Oklahomans declared as very or somewhat important the need for transparency regarding how and why health plans are deciding to deny coverage of doctor-prescribed treatments.
  • 47 percent of Oklahoma residents have seen their health care costs increase.
  • Almost one-third say coverage for them is not only getting more expensive, it’s actually getting worse.
  • 19 percent of Oklahomans say the treatment their doctor recommended wasn’t covered by insurance
  • 21 percent of Oklahoma patients say they know of a patient who was denied the treatment their doctor recommended someone they know had the same problem.

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