OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma Insurance Department officials on Tuesday approved a proposal that would allow insurers who use medical device technology in their insurance coverage to sell those products at lower rates than they do now.
Mary Fallin signed the measure, which was sent to the state legislature, which is expected to approve it on Thursday.
The measure would allow insurance companies to use certain devices for the purpose of diagnosing patients, helping patients manage conditions and other things.
The state already allows insurers to offer some medical devices, including MRI scanners, and doctors could opt to administer them, but they’re not covered under the current state law that limits how much insurers can charge for them.
Oklahomans who buy policies through their employer are eligible for the $25 tax credit for insurance and the $1,500 deductible, but it’s limited to $200 per year per patient.
It’s not clear how the tax credit would be applied to insurance purchased by individuals, who typically buy insurance through their employers.
Insurers could still be penalized for using medical devices for other purposes, such as helping people with chronic conditions, and could be fined up to $25,000 for any violations.
Insurance Commissioner Jeff King said in a statement that the measure would help insure people with preexisting conditions and would also help reduce the cost of health care.
“This is a critical step in helping people stay in their homes and avoid catastrophic illness,” King said.
“It is important that we take every possible step to prevent catastrophic illness in Oklahoma.
This is an important step in the right direction and a great example of how our state can take steps to keep our families and communities safe.”
The proposal comes on the heels of a similar bill passed in 2017 by the House of Representatives that included the $100 tax credit and an additional $1 million tax credit to encourage insurers to get out of the insurance business.
Insurer-backed coverage for prescription drugs has been a growing issue in the U.S. since the introduction of a $1 billion Medicare drug benefit that’s now available to insurers and states.
The bill passed the House but stalled in the Senate.