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New Oklahoma insurance plan will offer free, unlimited access to physicians

Karolina Grabowska

Oklahoma, Cleveland and Canadian county residents will soon have access to a new insurance policy combining traditional health coverage and access to direct primary care.

Taro Health is a New York health insurance company offering services through Maine’s Affordable Care Act Marketplace. Now, it’s expanding to Oklahoma by partnering with over 40 local direct primary care providers.

Direct primary care is a model where patients pay their physician or practice directly through monthly or annual fees beyond their insurance. This gives patients more time with and access to physicians to prevent unnecessary urgent care and emergency room visits.

Taro Health co-founder Jeff Yuan said his company is working to simplify this model by offering insurance through the Affordable Care Act Marketplace paired with free and unlimited access to virtual or in-person direct primary care and mental health visits.

“People can still have this wonderful relationship-based, high-access primary care experience, paired with the comforts of knowing that you're covered for what insurance is built for: access to specialists, hospitals and emergency care,” Yuan said.

The plan is open to people who don’t receive coverage from an employer or other source, including those who are self-employed or work at small businesses. Additional benefits include same- or next-day provider access, an ability to communicate with providers via text and longer appointment times.

Yuan said Taro Health’s prices are middle of the market, and Oklahomans may qualify for a federal subsidy that significantly reduces their premium.

Taro Health is coming as an estimated hundreds of thousands of Oklahomans are losing their access to SoonerCare. In March 2020, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services temporarily waived certain Medicaid requirements to allow people to continue their coverage through the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, states are required to resume eligibility reviews and disenroll members who are no longer eligible.

Kyle Rickner, the founder of Primary Health Partners, said he hopes the partnership with Taro will give more Oklahomans access to an affordable health insurance option with direct primary care at its core.

“We're excited to bring the direct primary care model with primary health partners to Oklahomans that otherwise would not always have access to it,” Rickner said.

Oklahomans can sign up for Taro Health on its website or through the Affordable Care Act Marketplace. Open enrollment is from Nov. 1 to Jan. 15.

StateImpact Oklahoma is a partnership of Oklahoma’s public radio stations which relies on contributions from readers and listeners to fulfill its mission of public service to Oklahoma and beyond. Donate online.

Jillian Taylor reports on health and related topics for StateImpact Oklahoma.
StateImpact Oklahoma reports on education, health, environment, and the intersection of government and everyday Oklahomans. It's a reporting project and collaboration of KGOU, KOSU, KWGS and KCCU, with broadcasts heard on NPR Member stations.
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