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CAHI Sticks Up For Medical Underwriting

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The Council for Affordable Health Insurance says it disagrees with other insurance groups’ willingness to accept more government involvement in the health care system.

America’s Health Insurance Plans, Washington, and the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, Chicago, said Thursday that they would accept a requirement that they offer coverage to applicants with serious health problems if the government would set up a risk-adjustment mechanism for insurers and require all individuals to own health coverage.

AHIP and the Blues say that approach would expand access to coverage while helping them cope with the risk of increased claims costs.

CAHI, Alexandria, Va., a group that promotes free-market approaches to improving the U.S. health care system, says it thinks the AHIP/Blues approach would end up hurting consumers.

To enforce the mandate, the government would have to define what would count as qualified health coverage, and interest groups would seek to force qualified plans to cover their many different products and services, CAHI says.

The government also could end up banning features such as health savings accounts or health reimbursement arrangements, or creating intentional or unintentional barriers to use those features, CAHI says.

CAHI says the government could do more to expand access to coverage by providing subsidies for individuals who cannot afford coverage and supporting risk pool insurance programs designed for individuals with health problems.