Health insurers are reminding lawmakers of their willingness to provide health coverage to all individuals, regardless of health status, as part of a comprehensive health reform plan that requires individuals to have coverage.
Karen Ignagni, president of America’s Health Insurance Plans, Washington, presented AHIP’s health reform proposal, today at a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing on health insurance reform.
The plan, also presented at a Senate Finance Committee hearing in November 2008, calls for investments in health information technology, preventive care and efforts to realign the incentives that now encourage doctors and hospitals to provide more care than necessary.
AHIP member companies are open to providing coverage on a guaranteed-issue basis — if the government prevents antiselection by creating an enforceable requirement that individual consumers have health coverage, Ignagni said.
Consultants at Milliman Inc., Seattle, found that “states that enacted guarantee-issue laws in the absence of an individual coverage requirement saw a rise in insurance premiums, a reduction of individual insurance enrollment, and no significant decrease in the number of uninsured,” Ignagni said, according to a written version of her testimony.
Janet Trautwein, chief executive of the National Association of Health Underwriters, Arlington, Va., suggested that the government require guaranteed access to individual coverage in exchange for state-level organizations protecting insurers against catastrophic risks.
Health insurance market reform also should include efforts to standardize state pre-existing condition rules; improve federal group-to-individual coverage portability provisions; limit insurers’ ability to rescind existing policies; make it easier for employers to help workers buy individual health insurance; and provide new subsidies and deductions to help make individual health coverage affordable, Trautwein said.
If the government does create an individual coverage mandate, the mandate “should not be accompanied by overly rigid coverage standards that would make coverage unaffordable and inhibit private plan design innovations,” Trautwein said. “Each state must be responsible for enforcement of the mandate for its own population. “The United States is too large and diverse a country for such a mandate to work otherwise.”