AHIP Offers Individal Health Proposals

This was an interesting news day. First, I saw an article on insurancenewsnet.com about a report from America‘s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) that said the insurance industry trade group had found that health care coverage is more accessible and affordable than is widely known. The survey they conducted was said to have found that premiums are affordable, most who applied were offered coverage, and that consumers have access to a wide variety of benefit options to meet their individual needs.

OK, I thought, this is some good news for all those people who are looking for individual health coverage and for the industry. Now maybe there is no need for states to pass legislation to require carriers to issue policies to anyone who applies potentially creating another layer of bureaucracy like Massachusetts has created, and the potential for reduced competition because many carriers may simply choose not to do business in those states.

Then the second article hit my in box. Again it involved AHIP. This one appeared in the New York Times with the lead: “Acknowledging that too many people simply cannot obtain health insurance on their own, the insurance industry plans on Wednesday to propose a series of steps the companies say would let more individuals, even those who have health problems, obtain coverage.”

What? I thought I had just read that everything was OK and that most everyone who wanted insurance was able to buy it. What is going on here?

It seems that the AHIP is trying to get out in front of this issue by developing proposals that would make it harder for insurers to cancel policies or deny coverage to people with pre-existing medical conditions. They also say that they want to limit the premiums that could be charged for such people. In turn, the trade group called on states to provide individual coverage for people who were likely to incur very high medical bills.

This is all apparently geared toward taking the wind out of the sails of politicians who are happy to vilify the insurance industry making them the culprits for the fact that some 47 million American do not have health insurance coverage.

Not a bad approach AHIP. While I am still confused by the mixed messages you sent today, I do think that it was the right move to acknowledge that there are problems inherent in the current individual health insurance market and to ask for the state’s to help jointly develop a solution with the industry rather than provoke an adversarial situation.

Could an a Medicare Advantage type program for non-Medicare individuals be in the future?

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