July 29th, 2009 – Today, I received an email from President Barack Obama titled, “What health insurance reform means for you.” In it he proposes guaranteeing health care security and stability with eight basic consumer protections:
- No discrimination for pre-existing conditions
- No exorbitant out-of-pocket expenses, deductibles or co-pays
- No cost-sharing for preventive care
- No dropping of coverage if you become seriously ill
- No gender discrimination
- No annual or lifetime caps on coverage
- Extended coverage for young adults
- Guaranteed insurance renewal so long as premiums are paid
These seem pretty reasonable to me. In fact, the majority of these consumer protections already exist here in Colorado, thanks to the Colorado Division of Insurance and Colorado State lawmakers.
Requiring insurers to offer guarantee issue plans is a good idea, so long as it doesn’t materially increase premiums for everyone else. Most of the lifetime benefit caps I see are pretty good and are in the $3 to $7 million per person range. Of course, if coverage is guarantee issue that becomes less of a concern.
I think health reform would be most successful if it leaves the current insurance system intact, except for some regulatory changes to help people with pre-existing conditions and improving plan portability for people that move from one state to another or change jobs.
I hope the government will focus its attention where it is most needed and that is on the ever increasing health care and drug costs, as that is what is driving up our insurance rates. While this country needs more progressive regulation over health insurance, it needs true reform over the health care sector if the government is serious about reining in costs for Americans.