AHIP Reacts to Proposed Senate Heath Legislation.

Karen Ignagni, President and CEO of America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), released the following statement on the release of proposed Senate healthcare reform legislation:

Karen Ignagni

Karen Ignagni

“The promise of health care reform is that it will provide all Americans coverage, allow them to keep their coverage if they like it, and bends the cost curve to put the system on a sustainable path.  These are the standards by which any reform bill should be judged, and the Senate bill falls short of meeting them.  We believe that these issues can be addressed and improved to achieve these goals, and we will continue to work with policymakers toward that end.

“We believe that all Americans, regardless of health status or medical history, should have guaranteed access to affordable coverage.  We have proposed guarantee issue coverage with no exclusions for pre-existing conditions in conjunction with a coverage requirement and adequate subsidies for working families.  We also have made a commitment to do our part by proposing far-reaching administrative simplification reforms that improve efficiency, reduce costs, and free up time for physicians to focus on patient care. We stand by these commitments, but agree with a wide range of health policy experts that market reforms will not work if there is not an effective coverage requirement.

“This proposal encourages people to wait until they are sick to purchase coverage, which will significantly drive up costs for those who are currently insured. The legislation also imposes rating rules that will raise the cost of coverage for millions of young families in more than 40 states.

“The new health care taxes and fees will raise the cost of coverage for individuals, families, and employers.  Health plans will be required to pay a $6.7 billion tax beginning next year for the next 10 years, in addition to ‘stabilization’ fees of $25 billion in 2014, 2015, and 2016.  According to Fortune magazine’s analysis of the companies listed under ‘Insurance and Managed Care’, earnings in 2008 totaled $8.61 billion with a profit margin of 2.2% — ranking the industry 35th on the Fortune list.

“This bill will also exacerbate the health care cost shift as health care providers offset reductions in public program reimbursements by charging more to families and employers who have private coverage. The new government plan will cause even more cost-shifting and threaten the employer-based coverage with which Americans are overwhelmingly satisfied.

“The $117 billion in cuts to Medicare Advantage will threaten the choices that seniors have across the country and significantly reduce seniors’ benefits in many major metropolitan areas.

Source: AHIP.org

Tweeting Live From AHIP Tomorrow.

Tomorrow is the official kick-off the America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) annual meting called Institute being held here in San Diego, CA.

The morning’s keynote speakers include Jeb Bush, the former Governor of the State of Florida, Howard Dean, MD, Chairman, Democratic National Committee, 2005-2009; Founder, Democracy for America; Governor of Vermont, 1991-2003 and John A. Kitzhaber, MD, Governor of Oregon 1995-2003; Director, Center for Evidence Based Policy, Oregon Health & Science University. That should make for an interesting discussion.

A rally of supporters of a public health plan are expected to convene outside the San Diego Convention Center as they did in San Francisco last year. This will make for an interesting mix as attendees try to make they way from area hotels to the Convention Center.

I will be Tweeting live from AHIP and hope to to post a few blogs about the day.

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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