Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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December 11, 2012

W.Va. lawmakers eye risks of health exchange

CHARLESTON — West Virginia officials believe partnering with the federal government is the state’s best option for a new health insurance marketplace. But they also warn that success is far from certain.

Officials from the state Insurance Commission fielded questions from lawmakers Tuesday regarding plans for a health insurance exchange.

The federal health care overhaul requires these marketplaces. They aim to allow individuals and small businesses to combine their purchasing power as they seek coverage from private insurers.

Legislators expressed concerns Tuesday about the rules for the exchange. Those include a cap that prevents insurers from charging older people more than three times the premiums paid by young adults. That could end up discouraging younger residents from participating, leaving the exchange with older consumers who have multiple and often costly health issues.

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