Obamacare sign-ups discussed locally

By By John Guidroz / American Press

A startup Metarie-based health

insurance company met Monday with local insurance brokers and agents to

discuss helping individuals

and small groups sign up for health insurance under the Affordable

Care Act.

Members of Louisiana Health

Cooperative, a nonprofit company that provides statewide coverage, held a

meeting at L’Auberge

Casino Resort as part of a statewide tour to meet with insurance

agencies. Greg Cromer, the company’s CEO, said they are relying

on brokers and agents to find people to enroll for health care

coverage through new insurance marketplaces. Open enrollment

began Oct. 1 and ends March 31, 2014.

“Our primary goal is to give folks a

choice or options and to stimulate competition in the marketplace,” said

Cromer, a state

Representative from Slidell. “Hopefully, that will drive providers

and insurers to do the best possible job they can and at

least stabilize cost.”

Anthony Cimino, LAHC director, said the

company received loan money from the Affordable Care Act. Loans were

provided to nonprofit

organizations throughout the country wanting to start an insurance


Cimino said the LAHC will offer insurance for individuals and small groups with 50 or fewer employees. Blue Cross and Blue

Shield of Louisiana is the only other company that provides statewide coverage, he said.

According to the Louisiana Health

Cooperative website, the company offers POS coverage where members can

receive health care

from in-network and out-of-network providers. Under the HMO

option, members get health care from in-network providers only.

Cimino said the LAHC has no pre-existing condition exclusions and provides 100 percent preventative care.

“I think that we are well-positioned to be able to participate in the new health care that has begun Oct. 1,” he said.

Federal law requires all marketplaces to be certified and operational by Jan. 1.

Mike Demarie, owner of Demarie Insurance Agency, said that having other markets is important because it gives agencies “options

for our customers.” Nearly 800,000 people in Louisiana are uninsured.

“They’re brand new, (and) they haven’t sold a policy yet,” he said. “With anything new, you have to be cautious about it.

But we can use them to help customers get health coverage that couldn’t get it before.”

Online: www.mylahc.org and www.healthcare.gov