Kim bill offering Pennie enrollees help for premiums passes House

Pilot program would answer governor’s call for health care insurance improvements

HARRISBURG, June 5 – Pennsylvanians who buy health insurance through Pennie would receive financial assistance to help pay premiums under a bill that passed the House today.

House Bill 2234, introduced by House Insurance Committee Chair Patty Kim, would award financial assistance to Pennie customers to help pay their premiums.

Pennie provides excellent health care coverage for hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians who fall outside of traditional work-related coverage options, Kim said, but many families still struggle to meet their deductibles or pay their premiums.

“Pennie and the reinsurance program have been very successful – this past open enrollment period, a record 435,000 Pennsylvanians bought their health insurance through Pennie,” said Kim, D-Cumberland/Dauphin. “But many Pennsylvanians – especially those coming off Medicaid – cannot afford a Pennie plan. Many other Pennsylvanians technically have coverage through Pennie, but that coverage has a deductible in the thousands of dollars.”

Additionally, more than two-thirds of uninsured people who applied for, but did not purchase, Pennie coverage said it was too expensive. Moreover, according to Federal Reserve data, 13% of adults are unable to pay a $400 unexpected expense at any given time – meaning many Pennie customers cannot afford their coverage.

“House Bill 2234 has two goals in mind: more people get insurance, and more people get better insurance,” Kim said. “The bill gives Pennie the flexibility to explore ways to mitigate high costs and deductibles for about 200,000 to 300,000 Pennie customers.

“The difference can really save lives.”

Kim’s proposal augments Gov. Josh Shapiro’s call to create a pilot program to help Pennsylvanians enroll and pay for health insurance through Pennie.

Shapiro's 2024-25 budget proposal calls for new investments into the state's reinsurance program to fund the proposals in H.B. 2234. Last month, 55 consumer advocate groups sent a letter in support of that plan.

The governor said in a recent release, “Health insurance is an important safety net to support participation in the workforce, access to health care, and financial stability of Pennsylvanians. Incentives like the subsidy-wrap program increase affordability of Pennie plans. This is a good policy tool to encourage more Pennsylvanians who either earn too much to qualify for Medicaid, or don't have access to employer-sponsored health insurance, to secure coverage from Pennie."