Kathleen Hittner, MD has been confirmed as Rhode Island’s next commissioner of health insurance. She replaces Chris Koller, who left office last week for a new position in New York. Hittner is a former Lifespan and Miriam hospital executive, as well as a former chief anesthesiologist for two hospitals. She says she intends to carry on Koller’s work.
“I have met with Chris Koller three times, going over his initiatives, so I understand what’s going on," Hittner said. "There isn’t anything Chris was doing that I think shouldn’t be continued.”
Rhode Islanders who buy health insurance individually or through a small employer now have an idea how much their monthly premiums will be in 2014. The state’s outgoing commissioner of health insurance approved rates lower than insurance companies requested, although just about everyone’s health insurance bill will be going up.
Chris Koller, Rhode Island’s first commissioner of health insurance, spent his last day in office today. Before he heads to New York City to take over as president of the Milbank Memorial Fund, he stopped by our studios to reflect on his time in office here.
The General Assembly created Koller’s position – a first in the nation, too – in the mid-2000s to help address growing concern over the cost of health insurance and how insurers were paying health care providers.
Today is the last day on the job for Rhode Island’s –and the nation’s—first commissioner of health insurance. Chris Koller is leaving the position to take the helm of a foundation in New York City. He leaves behind some significant changes in the health insurance marketplace.
It’s unclear how exactly Wednesday's U.S. Supreme Court decision on DOMA will affect health care coverage for same-sex spouses. But Rhode Island’s largest health insurer has already been extending such benefits.
As an employer, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Rhode Island has been offering health coverage to its employees’ same-sex spouses since 2010, said Blue Cross compliance officer Martha Holt Castle.
UPDATE: HHS unveiled a newly redesigned healthcare.gov today, which lets users learn more about enrolling in health insurance plans through online insurance marketplaces beginning October 1st. I tried it out. The web site leads you through a series of questions and presents you with your likely options for coverage and whatever financial assistance might be available to help you pay for that coverage. It also creates a customized "checklist" to help you prepare for enrollment, which includes a list of documents you'll need to gather.
For the first time, Rhode Island’s insurance commissioner has directed health insurers to disclose what they pay for health care services. But that information won’t necessarily be directly available to patients.
Rhode Island’s online marketplace for health insurance is taking shape in preparation for October 1st. That's the date the exchange is scheduled to be up and running with a variety of new health plans to choose from.