Bad news insurance bill


Moderator Emeritus
Feb 27, 2004
Many people, myself included, were aware that there is pending a bill before the US Senate that would allow small businesses to pool together and buy insurance. Without this bill there are antitrust problems with the pooling. This is a good idea. But.

What many do not know is that the bill will remove in large part the ability of states to regulate insurance. This was the topic of the NOW television program on PBS.

From the PBS webite:

A number of consumer advocates, insurance regulators and state officials have voiced concern about the legislation. These groups believe that it will reduce benefits for all Americans and undermine critical consumer protections.

They fear that the pre-emption of state regulations could prevent consumers from receiving critical treatment such as cancer screening, alcoholism treatment and emergency services.

Several groups representing people with specific diseases oppose the bill. "In one stroke, this bill would erase all that state legislatures have done to prevent and more effectively treat cancer," Daniel E. Smith, a vice president of the American Cancer Society, said.

Forty one state Attorneys General have also stated their opposition to the bill, which they say "would erode state oversight of health insurance plans, eliminate consumer protections in the areas of mandated benefits and internal grievance procedures."

In a letter to the Senate last month, the group pointed out that, if passed, the law would pre-empt state laws regulating all health insurance plans, not just small business health plans.

Kofman also believes that the proposed law would hurt consumers. "The bill will allow insurance companies to discriminate in ways they can't now. Many small businesses will see their premiums sky-rocket, especially businesses with older workers and with employees who need medical care. The bill will result in a loss of rights for consumers everywhere," she said.

Kofman and other critics say the legislation could result in health insurance coverage that does not cover much at all.

"The threat here is that these bare bones plans become ubiquitous in the market and draw people to them because folks are so desperate for affordable healthcare," Jerry Flanagan, a consumer advocate at The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights, told NOW.

Like many opponents, Flanagan fears that people will no longer be able to sue their insurers for damages if Congress passes the legislation. "If you remove that legal threat, then insurers can deny coverage, deny treatments with impunity because there's no threat whatsoever-- if they do," he said

The insurance superintendent of New York, Howard Mills, said in a letter to Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton that the legislation could create severe problems because it would pre-empt a state law requiring insurers to set rates for small businesses and individuals without regard to age, sex, health status or occupation.

I am writing Minnesota senators to oppose the bill.

On the surface it sound great, but as you look more, it is very problematic. One potential problem is that the yound and healthy will flee to the cheap plans with limited coverage, leaving the older and the sicker with plans that become more and more expensive.

People also will be easily mislead as to what is covered and by how much. These plans don't have break points, where you become covered in full. There may be daily limits on coverage. One example is a daily limit of $1000 for chemotherapy where chemotherapy often costs up to $15,000 to $20,000 in a day. Most people are not aware of that.

Here is a link to the full bill:

Here is a link to other links discussing problems with the bill:
New Hampshire just tried this I think. But, I don't remember if they instituted it, and then cancelled it. Or the other way around.

It was a big to do a while back. I didn't pay much attention to it because I don't own a small business.
Martha - do you have a link to the MN Senators so I can join you in protesting?? Thanks for bringing this to our attention! Katie
Bimmerbill said:
New Hampshire just tried this I think.  But, I don't remember if they instituted it, and then cancelled it.  Or the other way around. 

It was a big to do a while back.  I didn't pay much attention to it because I don't own a small business.

I was only paying casual attention to this bill because I was thinking it pertained to small businesses only.  Instead, the reach is far more broad, signficantly impairing the ability of states to regulate rates and coverage.

New Hampshire tried something similar and repealed the law because it made the prices go up, not down.
And it drove many insurance providers out of the state.

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