LANSING – State Representative Alberta Tinsley-Talabi (Detroit) recently introduced a proposal to the Michigan House of Representatives to create the MiHealth marketplace, a health care exchange that will enable millions of Michigan residents to comparison shop for health insurance coverage.

“The MiHealth marketplace will make health care affordable and accessible to many of the 1.4 million people in our state who currently have no insurance and the thousands more who lack a comprehensive health care plan, while helping others to sign up for Medicaid,” Tinsley-Talabi said. “Once up and running, MiHealth will take a large step toward making good on the promise that our health care system will be available to everyone.”

As part of the Affordable Care Act, all states are required to create health care exchanges and have them operational by Jan. 1, 2014. The federal government will step in and create an exchange for states that haven’t created one of their own. Many states, such as Massachusetts, California and Utah, already have exchanges up and running, or are preparing to open an exchange. The health care exchanges aim to make health care more affordable by enlarging the pool of covered consumers, reducing the cost to everyone.

Tinsley-Talabi’s bill requires the inclusion of at least one Michigan resident who is Medicaid-eligible on the board that governs MiHealth and requires the exchange to publicize the availability of health plans through all media outlets, thereby reaching people with no home Internet services. These differences that distinguish her bill from a Senate proposal to create a health care exchange. The MiHealth marketplace, outlined in House Bill 5409, will also:

  • Develop a rating criteria so that consumers can compare plans.

  • Allow consumers to buy the plan of their choice online at the marketplace.

  • Make consumers aware of eligibility requirements for Medicaid, MiChild or other assistance programs and help eligible people enroll in them.

  • Establish the Small Business Health Options Program to help employers find affordable coverage for their employees.

  • Require health insurance companies to justify any premium increase.

“MiHealth will be a win for everyone in the state. People who are uninsured will finally be able to see doctors and treat medical conditions before they become emergencies. Employers will be able to offer better health plans to their workers and insurance companies will have a chance to gain more customers,” Tinsley-Talabi said. “I encourage all my fellow legislators to support this proposal so that we can move Michigan forward.”