Health Insurers Offer Concessions For Change: Imagine a world where your health insurance costs would not rise simply because you had a medical condition as financially taxing as diabetes? America’s Health Insurance Plans and Blue Cross Blue Shield offered a plan last week that would effectively end their, “Long-standing practice of charging sick customers higher premiums. [This is] a significant concession in the face of mounting criticism of the industry in Washington,” according to an LATimes.com report.
It may be safe to say that the insurance industry as a whole is feeling threatened by President Obama’s push towards nationalized medicine. As with other issues this may be a scenario that exists simply because the U.S. government has pushed so strongly toward reform in health care. Some have concluded that the choice may be to either provide radical reform in order to keep health care in the private sector or be bound by government run health care in the future.
A letter sent to senior U.S. lawmakers read, “By enacting an effective, enforceable requirement that all Americans assume responsibility to obtain and maintain health insurance, we believe we could guarantee issue coverage with no pre-existing condition exclusions and phase out the practice of varying premiums based on health status in the individual market.”
Forbes.com quoted Sheryl Skolnick a CRT Capital Group analyst as saying, “When you know you’re going to be regulated, then everyone knows it’s better to propose it yourself then have someone impose something on you. [Private insurers] are scrambling for anything that will get them a mandate because then everyone will be covered and that keeps the insurers in the game.”
As with everything in life there are provisions that must be met with this proposal. The American Health Insurance Plans indicate they can actively create this environment based on the government’s ability to bring all Americans to the health insurance table. The indication is that if the costs are distributed among a much larger pool then it is possible to provide insurance without many of the limitations in place today.
However, some provisions would remain unchanged. The fees the insured would have to pay are still contingent on age, family size and geographical location. As a bonus the group is indicating a willingness to provide health conscious discounts. This might reward those who quit smoking with a reduction in premium costs or in the case of the diabetic following a closely monitored self-management plan that include changes in diet and exercise.
This plan is not without opposition. There are some that remain uncertain that private health insurance plans can deliver, but others suggest it may be better to revamp an existing system than completely shift to a government based program that may not be fully equipped to handle the job of health coverage.
For years insurance carriers have argued that a variation in premiums was necessary because some individuals would wait until they were really sick before purchasing health insurance. They argue that if health insurance were mandatory then it would eliminate the need for price variations in policy coverage.
Some politicians remain skeptical and call the move a point of desperation by the insurance industry to attempt to stall any competition from a government run plan. Sen. Charles E. Grassley, “Dismissed the letter as simply reiterating the industry’s positions,” according to the LATimes.com. This comment was in reference to two previous attempts by the industry to garner governmental support.