Health Insurers Face Off on Proposed Coverage Mandates
"Perhaps the most important question in the debate over expanding access to health insurance is whether insurance companies should be required to provide coverage to anyone who seeks it," regardless of pre-existing medical conditions, Daniel Weintraub writes in his Sacramento Bee column.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's (R) health care reform proposal "has split California's insurance companies," Weintraub writes.
A draft proposal by five major insurers initially would allow insurers to continue to reject certain applicants based on pre-existing conditions, but it also would require each insurer to offer at least one low-cost plan available to everyone. Once the governor's proposed coverage mandate is fully enforced, insurers would not be allowed to deny coverage to applicants.
Weintraub says the proposal is "significant because it could put the power of the insurance industry behind one of the most controversial aspects of [Schwarzenegger's] plan."
The proposal was developed by:
- Blue Shield of California;
- Kaiser Permanente; and
- United Healthcare.
Meanwhile, Blue Cross of California, the state's largest insurer, opposes the insurers' proposal and has offered an alternative to Schwarzenegger's plan: expand an existing state-run pool for expensive, high-risk consumers, according to Weintraub.
"Either alternative ... could ultimately reshape how Californians get their health care for years to come," Weintraub writes (Weintraub, Sacramento Bee, 5/8). This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.