By: Joshua Danker-Dake | Category: Financial Services | Issue: September 2009
Mike Ziegenhorn, insurance agent and broker for the Holmes Organisation, says that the expansion of Insure Oklahoma – Insure Tulsa – has given even more people who could not afford insurance the opportunity to obtain coverage.
Oklahoma has had one of the worst uninsured rates in the nation for some time. But recently that’s been changing, thanks in large part to Insure Oklahoma, which is still working to increase the number of people eligible to participate.
The Oklahoma Employer/Employee Partnership for Insurance Coverage (O-EPIC), also known as Insure Oklahoma, was initiated in 2004 to help provide health care coverage for low-income working Oklahomans. Under the Employer-Sponsored Insurance program, the state pays 60 percent of premium costs, the employer pays 25 percent, and the employee pays the remaining 15 percent. For those who are self-employed, temporarily unemployed or whose employers do not offer health insurance, there is the O-EPIC Individual Plan, which allows the purchase of benefits directly through the state.
This July, Insure Tulsa, an expansion of Insure Oklahoma, went into effect. “The expanded program has given more people the opportunity to obtain coverage who couldn’t afford it in the past,” says Mike Ziegenhorn, an insurance agent and broker for the Holmes Organisation, an independent insurance agency that has been providing insurance and benefits for over 40 years. “We’ve been getting a good response so far, with more people becoming insured. It’s really helped to lower the number of uninsured people in the state. I’ve also seen a lot of people who have been able to add their spouses to their health coverage, where three to five years ago they wouldn’t have been able to because of the cost.”
As of July 2009, over 23,000 Oklahomans and nearly 5,000 businesses statewide were enrolled in Insure Oklahoma. That includes over 3,000 people and nearly 1,000 businesses in Tulsa County alone, according to www.oepic.ok.gov.