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Do-Nothing Stance On Health Won't Cut It: Oxendine

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A “just do nothing” approach to health care tax issues is one sure way to arrive at national health care, cautioned Georgia Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine during the spring meeting of the NAIC here.

A federally run health insurance system “would be the worst thing that could happen to our children and grandchildren,” he maintained. He made the remarks during a session of the NAIC’s tax policy working group.

Part of the answer is to get the American people to buy into health insurance and realize the $15 co-pay in many cases does not come near to covering the cost of insurance, Oxendine said.

“The American family is totally out of touch,” he said. “Mom and dad can manage their care better than insurance executives.” They need the financial incentives to do that, he added.

He suggested that can come in the form of tax incentives to help families fund health savings accounts and other kinds of health care savings programs, he said.

“We need to support any consumer-driven product,” he said. In Georgia, a bill that would exempt HSAs from state premium taxes is among such legislation being pursued, he noted.

Regulators should engage in that debate both through action at the working group and by calling on Congress to do the same, he insisted.

Representatives from America’s Health Insurance Plans, Washington, and Principal Financial Inc., Des Moines, Iowa, expressed support for the call to action.

Oxendine also said the NAIC plans to set up meetings with the Treasury Dept. to discuss another tax issue, the impact on life insurance of suggestions from the President’s Advisory Panel on Tax Reform. The concern as regulators, he said, is it could limit the availability of product.

“As a regulator, I want the largest range of products that consumers can buy,” he said.

Care needs to be taken to avoid false comparisons between insurance and investment products, said Lisa Tate, senior counsel with the American Council of Life Insurers, Washington. The report from the President’s panel does not take into account how an insurance contract’s investment component helps fund the insurance, she maintained.


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