When President Obama signed the two big health bills into law in March, he may have changed the U.S. disability insurance market in ways that providers, producers and customers cannot yet start to imagine.
Drew King, president of JHA, Portland, Maine, a disability reinsurance and consulting firm, talked about the potential impact of a health reform bill in March, before the bills had become law.
“What happens there has a huge impact on our business,” King said at JHA’s annual disability insurance conference. “How often are people going to be able to go to the doctor? Who’s going to pay for that?”
Other speakers asked what the health system change might do to disability insurers, and disability insurance producers, if small employers suddenly start buying health coverage through a new health insurance exchange system, rather than through agents and brokers.
Many in the disability insurance industry are still struggling to learn enough about the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and its companion, the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act, to come up with questions.
William Schiffbauer, a Washington lawyer, says even health policy experts are just starting to shift from skimming bill summaries to reading and analyzing the actual language of PPACA and HCERA.
Some Republican groups and business groups still hope to find a way to block implementation of PPACA and HCERA.
If the Obama administration succeeds at implementing PPACA and HCERA, then state and federal agencies will create:
–a new “health insurance exchange” insurance distribution system;
–the CLASS voluntary long term care benefits program;
–incentives for states to provide more services for people with severe disabilities who live outside institutions; and
–rules that are supposed to help people with health problems have easier access to health coverage.
Most of the provisions of interest to disability insurers appear to be in PPACA.
The drafters of PPACA took pains to distinguish PPACA programs from private insurance programs.
In the CLASS Act part of the law, for example, “nothing in this title or the amendments made by this title are intended to replace or displace public or private disability insurance benefits, including such benefits that are for income replacement,” according to CLASS Act Section 3210(f) in PPACA Section 8002.
Section 9010 of PPACA seeks to raise revenue from health insurers by imposing an “annual fee” on health insurance providers.