The Lull In Health Insurance Reforms
The two biggest health insurance producer associations, the National Association of Health Underwriters and the Association of Health Insurance Advisors, have spent a decade facing wave after wave of state bills seeking to reshape the small-group health insurance market.
This year, security concerns and budget deficits have forced state lawmakers to put off most discussions about health insurance.
NAHU and AHIA are using the lull to promote their own legislative agendas, to take advantage of their members reputation for understanding how the health insurance market really works.
At NAHU, “the big issue is affordability,” says Jessica Waltman, the groups state government affairs director. “We are looking for health insurance market reforms that will lower costs for the consumer and increase competition for the carriers.”
The Arlington, Va. association is starting by calling for the formation of high-risk health insurance pools in the 22 states where no such pools exist.
Risk pools provide coverage for people with health problems. Setting up a risk pool helps the sick buy coverage while protecting private carriers against adverse selection, risk pool advocates say.
Waltman points to Rhode Island as an example of the importance of risk pools.
Rhode Island requires carriers selling individual health coverage in the state to accept all applicants, no matter how sick. That approach has forced most individual carriers to abandon the state, leaving Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Rhode Island as the states lone individual carrier, Waltman says.