In The Know: Oklahoma insurance rates will be 20-30 percent below U.S. average under ACA

In The KnowIn The Know is a daily synopsis of Oklahoma policy-related news and blogs. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.

Today you should know that monthly rates for health insurance on the Affordable Care Act marketplace in Oklahoma will be below the national average, and residents will be able to choose from 53 health plans on average. Urban Tulsa Weekly reported on how the new law is being implemented in Oklahoma, and the Oklahoma Gazette examined the options available for low-income workers and employers to get health insurance. The OK Policy Blog discussed reforms to increase the supply of primary care providers to create demand from the influx of newly insured Oklahomans under the Affordable Care Act.

Chesapeake Energy laid off 86 people in 11 different departments. A federal reserve economist reported that job growth in Oklahoma has slowed, but remains stronger than many other parts of the country. The slowdown in growth was due to low natural gas prices and federal budget cuts that reduced government contracts.

The Oklahoma Supreme Court approved $40 million in bonds for the construction of a new state medical examiner’s office. The OK Policy Blog previously discussed why problems at the medical examiners’ office are a clear example of Oklahoma’s underfunding of core public services. East Central University in Ada will receive a federal grant to establish campus-based childcare for lower-income parents attending the university.

The Number of the Day is the the number of primary care physicians per 100,000 people in Oklahoma. In today’s Policy Note, a Center for American Progress report on the state of women in America ranks Oklahoma 48th worst overall, and last in the nation for women’s health.

In The News

Oklahoma health insurance rates will be 20 to 30 percent below U.S. average under ACA

Monthly rates for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act in Oklahoma will be below the national average, and residents can choose from 53 health plans on average, according to new federal data. Monthly premiums in Oklahoma will range from $266 for the second-lowest-cost silver plan to $174 for the lowest-cost bronze plan before subsidies are applied, according to the report released Tuesday by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The report shows that rates in Oklahoma will be about 20 percent to 30 percent below the national average for the three plans listed.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Should we afford proper health care for all citizens?

One of the most comprehensive health surveys in the history of Tulsa County wasn’t spawned to help provide care for the basic necessities of the most needy, but to satisfy new regulations from the IRS. As part of new tax code changes related to the Affordable Care Act, nonprofit hospitals must now come up with a health-related community needs assessment. When the Tulsa Health Department a couple of years ago became interested in developing a new survey to drill deep into the health concerns of county residents, it could count on support from St. John and Saint Francis. Along with questions about specific health areas, the approximately 70-question phone survey also asked about access to health care.

Read more from Urban Tulsa Weekly.

Navigating the health care maze

Parking at the Oklahoma Foundation for the Disabled means finding a place in uneven, rigid red dirt. Inside the modest building, donations are piling up in the conference room, as there isn’t anyone available to organize. Like many nonprofits, the foundation uses its limited funds not for outward appearance but for providing services to people in need. In this case, it offers life skills training, socialization and therapy to central Oklahomans with developmental disabilities who may otherwise have few enriching activities during the day. Available resources at nonprofits also create lower employee salaries and less access to affordable health care. But since OKFD began providing Insure Oklahoma, the state-based health insurance program for low-income residents, its employees now have better coverage.

Read more from the Oklahoma Gazette.

Growing the supply of primary care providers

With the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) many uninsured Oklahomans will have access to health insurance coverage starting in 2014. The influx of newly insured Oklahomans will create a greater demand for health care services. This could cause potential problems in Oklahoma because of the current lack of primary care providers (PCPs) in the state. Oklahoma currently ranks 49th in access to primary care physicians with only 81.7 physicians per 100,000 people. Back in August, OK Policy released a Health Care Actions Item Brief that introduced smart policy reforms to improve Oklahoma’s health outcomes. The brief suggested that growing the supply of PCPs would be one way Oklahoma could work towards creating healthier citizens.

Read more from the OK Policy Blog.

Chesapeake lays off 86 employees

Chesapeake Energy Corp., the Oklahoma City-based oil and natural gas producer, laid off 86 people in 11 different departments, CEO Doug Lawler said in an email Tuesday to employees. Chesapeake has more than 12,000 employees, according to its most recent annual report in April. The company had more than 4,700 employees in Oklahoma City as of Jan. 31, according to a report it provided to the city in March. Tuesday’s cuts involved employees in departments ranging from administrative services and communications to human relations and information technology, according to Lawler’s email to employees. The company did not specify how many worked in Oklahoma City.

Read more from NewsOK.

Job growth in Oklahoma has slowed, but remains strong overall

Oklahoma’s economy has lost some momentum over the past year, but is still on stronger footing than many other parts of the country. That’s the view from Chad Wilkerson, regional economist for the Oklahoma City branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, who spoke during the Fed’s annual economic forecast in Oklahoma City on Monday. Job growth in the energy sector is down 15 percent from a year ago, Wilkerson said. However, the state’s energy sector is still relatively strong — oil and gas production has continued to increase in the state over the past year. Sequestration is another factor for weakening job growth in Oklahoma, including in the manufacturing sector in the eastern part of the state due to a slowdown in government contracts, Wilkerson said.

Read more from NewsOK.

Oklahoma Supreme Court approves bonds for medical examiner building in Edmond

The Oklahoma Supreme Court on Tuesday approved the issuance of almost $40 million in bonds for the construction of a new headquarters for the state medical examiner’s office. The new building will be at the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond. The university plans to lease the facility to the state. The medical examiner’s office lost its national accreditation in 2009, in part because its main headquarters in Oklahoma City is a small, outdated facility. In May 2012, bodies sent to the Oklahoma City office had to be kept in refrigerated trucks until a 42-year-old cooler could be repaired.

Read more from NewsOK.

Previously: Getting what we pay for from the OK Policy Blog

Oklahoma college receives federal grant for childcare program

An Oklahoma college is receiving a federal grant to establish or fund campus-based childcare services for lower-income parents involved in higher education. East Central University in Ada will receive $88,300 for the program from the U.S. Department of Education. The federal agency is giving nearly $9.2 million to similar campuses across the country to support the program. U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan says the grants will help parents stay focused on their studies and graduation goals.

Read more from News9.

Quote of the Day

I was expecting to see it. I was looking for it, and it’s not there.

-Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Analytics, who said there’s no evidence that small businesses are reducing hiring due to the Affordable Care Act (Source:

Number of the Day


The number of primary care physicians per 100,000 people in Oklahoma

Source: Oklahoma Policy Institute

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Mapping the state of women in America

Despite the advancements made by women over the past few decades, it is still difficult for women to get ahead and not just get by. There remain challenges on economic security, leadership, and health issues that make it harder for women to have a fair shot at success. This map accompanies the report “The State of Women in America,” in which we examine both the progress made and the challenges remaining for women across the country.

Read more from the Center for American Progress.

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Gene Perry worked for OK Policy from 2011 to 2019. He is a native Oklahoman and a citizen of the Cherokee Nation. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a B.A. in history and an M.A. in journalism.

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