Senate, Assembly Committee Approve Comparison Shopping Bill
A healthy Californian in the market for health insurance is confronted with an array of 88 choices offering a wide range of features and prices, according to a 2006 survey.
Choice is usually considered a good thing in a competitive market place, but when the products are as complex and varied as health plans, too much unfiltered choice can be a problem, according to incoming Senate Leader Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento).
A bill by Steinberg (SB 1522) making its way through the California Legislature would require health plans to be classified in one of five categories, aiming to give consumers a greater opportunity for comparison shopping when it comes to health insurance.
The measure is one of several vestiges of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's (R) health care overhaul plan that died earlier this year. Steinberg's bill has moved through the Senate, and was approved by the Assembly Health Committee earlier this week.
Under the bill, the Department of Managed Health Care and the Department of Insurance would develop categories ranging from "comprehensive" to "catastrophic," as well as the criteria that would be used to classify the health plans.
A trade association representing HMOs, opposes the bill.
"We believe it will increase the number of uninsureds and increase of the cost of health care, because health plans would be limited in the number of health plans they could offer," said Nicole Kasabian Evans, a spokesperson for the California Association of Health Plans.
While deliberations continue on SB 1522, here's a look at other recent action on health care legislation in Sacramento.