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AHIP Prepares Legislative Package

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The America’s Health Insurance Plans board is getting ready to unveil suggestions about ways to provide”universal access” to health insurance.

The package, which could appear in November, would include proposals for state legislation as well as federal legislation, and it would be far different from proposals to create one giant, government-funded, universal health insurance program, AHIP President Karen Ignagni said here today.

The AHIP board will be proposing “targeted solutions to [meet] the health care needs of different populations,” Ignagni said.

Earlier this year, Sens. Michael Enzi, R-Wyoming, and Ben Nelson, D-Neb., were trying to pass an “association health plan” bill.

The AHP bill, which failed to get through the Senate, would have created a system of insured association health plans. Each AHP would be have been supervised by insurance regulators in its home state.

AHIP did not take a position on the Senate AHP bill, but it would like to see any new AHP bill provide a level playing field for all health care providers, Ignagni said.

In theory, the AHIP package could complement a new AHP bill, if the new AHP bill would create a level playing field for all health plans, Ignagni said.

Ignagni spoke at a press conference that AHIP held to unveil results of a survey of 21 AHIP member companies about the state of the small group health plan market.

The survey team drew on data for more than 650,000 employers with 50 or fewer employees. The plans cover 4 million workers and 3.2 million dependents, AHIP says.

AHIP researchers found that the average 2006 monthly premium is $311 for single coverage and $814 for family coverage.

About 96% of the employees included in the survey have conventional preferred provider organization or health maintenance organization coverage, and 4% are in high-deductible health plans that offer access to health savings accounts.

Fewer than 1% of the small group employees have either traditional indemnity insurance or plans that incorporate health reimbursement arrangements, AHIP researchers report.

AHIP researchers also looked at small group plan benefits.

The researchers found, for example, that 85% of the small group HSA plans and 88% of the small group PPO plans offer lifetime maximum benefits of $5 million or higher.

Only 73% of the small group PPO plans cover routine physical exams for adults, but 100% of the HSA plans in the survey do so.

Along the same lines, 100% of the HSA plans cover outpatient mental health services, compared with just 85% of the small group PPO plans.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article described AHIP’s position on the Enzi-Nelson AHP bill incorrectly. AHIP supported the Enzi-Nelson bill effort and did not take a position on the bill itself.


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