Bill now requires cross-state insurers cover Oklahoma mandates (News OK)

By Dale Denwalt

The latest version of a bill that lets insurance companies sell policies across state lines requires those plans to include Oklahoma mandates.

Senate Bill 478 would free up out-of-state insurers to market here to individual buyers. The most contentious part of the original legislation was that companies could avoid covering medical conditions that state law requires for plans originating in Oklahoma.

If it is advanced into law, the bill would let the Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner enter into an agreement with other states that allow cross-border insurance sales. The goal, said state Rep. Lewis Moore, is to lure carriers from larger, healthier states. Moore, R-Arcadia, is one of the bill’s authors.

The bill has entered the last stage before final passage. If enough members of a House committee sign off on it, it will return to the full House and Senate for consideration.

In a compromise, the legislation requires that any plan being sold in Oklahoma must conform to the state’s insurance mandate laws.

Oklahoma law requires policies to cover more than two dozen medical conditions and treatments, including autism, mammograms, prostate exams, immunizations and birth defects. There are additional federal mandates, and other states might have fewer mandates, or more, than Oklahoma.

Oklahoma began requiring insurance policies to cover autism just last year.

“That still allows us a fair amount of choice. This is closer to free market, free market meaning it doesn’t matter how many mandates, what mandates, we just want you to come in and offer coverage,” said Moore. “This is a compromise. It says we’re pretty reasonable at 40 mandates.”

Jerrod Shouse, state director of the National Federation of Independent Business, said his organization is watching how lawmakers vote on the bill.

“Our members tell us that the cost of health insurance is still the most severe problem facing small businesses,” Shouse said. “SB478 would help address that problem by encouraging more competition and broader risk pooling, which should lead to lower rates across the board.

The compromise was lauded by the Oklahoma Policy Institute, which had rallied opposition to the bill earlier this session.

“We’re gratified to see that the bill would now require out-of-state insurers selling in this state to follow Oklahoma law,” said policy analyst Carly Putnam. “However, Oklahomans should watch closely to make sure consumer protections are safeguarded as the measure is implemented.”


Margaret (Maggie) den Harder obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Christian Theology from Seattle Pacific University and a Master of Public Administration from the University of Oklahoma. Originally from the Pacific Northwest area of Washington state, Maggie has called Tulsa home for the past 8 years. Since living in Tulsa, Maggie has worked in the legal field, higher education administration, and the nonprofit sector as well as actively volunteering in the community. Maggie also recently spent time at the City of Tulsa as a consultant and wrote the content for Resilient Tulsa, an action-oriented strategy designed to better equity in Tulsa. Through her work, community involvement, and personal experiences, Maggie is interested in the intersection of the law and mental health and addiction treatment issues, preventative and diversion programs, and maternal mental health, particularly post-partum depression and post-partum psychosis. While working at Oklahoma Policy Institute as a research intern, Maggie further developed an interest in family dynamics and stability, economic security-related stress, and intergenerational trauma.

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