(Image: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services)

One trade group for health insurers has dropped a broad hint that it could, possibly be open to seeing the U.S. individual major medical market look more like the Medicare Advantage program.

That program gives private health insurers a chance to receive federal subsidies in exchange for providing health plans that serve as an alternative to traditional, government-run Medicare coverage.

America’s Health Insurance Plans talks about “public-private partnerships” in a a new response to Sen. Bernie Sanders’ “Medicare for All” bill, S. 1804. S. 1804 would eliminate all forms private major medical coverage, and many forms of private vision, dental and hearing care insurance.

(Related: Health Care Service Corp. ACA Exchange Plans Look Better: Moody’s)   

David Merritt, AHIP’s executive vice president for public affairs and strategic alternatives, says in a statement about “single-payer” health insurance proposals that U.S. policyholders should “build on proven solutions that work.”

The country should provide more incentives for patients to get higher-value care, do a better job of coordinating care, improve management of chronic illnesses, and strengthen market competition, Merritt says in the statement.

Policymakers should not shift to “government-controlled health care,” because government-controlled health care cannot work, Merritt writes.

But Merritt cites the Medicare Advantage program and state managed Medicaid programs, which also give private insurers a chance to use government subsidies to provide health coverage, as examples of successful coverage programs.

Policymakers can strengthen the private market’s ability to serve the American people by “building upon private plans” and by supporting the “tens of millions who depend on private plans that partner with public programs,” Merritt writes.

Some major health insurers have dropped out of AHIP in recent years and organized their own lobbying efforts, but some of those insurers, including UnitedHealth Group Inc., have been talking more in recent years about their Medicare Advantage and managed Medicaid programs than about their commercial health insurance programs. 

— Read 3 UnitedHealth Earnings Highlights for Agents on ThinkAdvisor.


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