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Baucus health reform bill draws fire in Indiana, too

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The health insurance industry’s sudden counterpunch to the Senate version of health reform echoed in Indiana and opened a key issue for the rest of the debate: Will covering half of the country’s uninsured mean raising premiums for the 85 percent of Americans who already have insurance?

The answer is yes, according to a controversial study released Oct. 12 by America’s Health Insurance Plans, a trade group in which Indianapolis-based WellPoint Inc. is a leading member. But the study was blasted by the Obama administration and congressional Democrats as being both flawed and self-serving.

Hillman

In Indianapolis, however, Rob Hillman, president of WellPoint’s Indiana subsidiary, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, e-mailed the study right away to dozens of Indiana insurance brokers.

 

Also, Susan Rider, an Indianapolis insurance broker and president-elect of the Indianapolis chapter of the National Association of Health Underwriters, distributed an e-mail with concerns about the so-called Baucus bill, authored by Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont.

Health insurers’ main beef with recent amendments to the Baucus bill is that the amendments back away from a deal the insurers thought they had—in exchange for health insurers’ agreeing to cover anyone regardless of how sick they are, Congress would require all Americans to buy health insurance.

That mandate would have been enforced through salty fees charged to anyone who didn’t comply. But the fees were heavily criticized, so Baucus’ Senate Finance Committee rolled them back from an original amount of $3,800 to $1,500 for families. And in the first year the amended bill would take effect, Americans would face no penalty at all for going without insurance.

“The penalty for not having insurance coverage is too low, and it will result in many people choosing to just pay the fine rather than purchasing insurance coverage,” Carl McDonald, a health insurance analyst at Oppenheimer & Co., wrote in a recent blog post. He added, “This is a recipe for adverse selection, which will raise premium costs across the entire health care system.”

The AHIP study tried to calculate exactly how much premiums would rise, saying the average family policy would more than double in price in the next decade, to nearly $26,000.

But the study, conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers, analyzed only four aspects of the Baucus bill. It failed to examine, for example, the $452 billion in subsidies Congress would spend to help uninsured Americans buy health insurance—a potential boon to the industry. Also, since most of the 29 million new customers would be young, healthy and therefore low-spending customers, their presence in insurance risk pools likely would reduce costs for everyone.

 

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  • see
    With the mandate we must have the public option and we can't afford to keep giving away all these subsidies. My Lord, what do we not subsidize?

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  1. The deductible is entirely paid by the POWER account. No one ever has to contribute more than $25/month into the POWER account and it is often less. The only cost not paid out of the POWER account is the ER copay ($8-25) for non-emergent use of the ER. And under HIP 2.0, if a member calls the toll-free, 24 hour nurse line, and the nurse tells them to go to the ER, the copay is waived. It's also waived if the member is admitted to the hospital. Honestly, although it is certainly not "free" - I think Indiana has created a decent plan for the currently uninsured. Also consider that if a member obtains preventive care, she can lower her monthly contribution for the next year. Non-profits may pay up to 75% of the contribution on behalf of the member, and the member's employer may pay up to 50% of the contribution.

  2. I wonder if the governor could multi-task and talk to CMS about helping Indiana get our state based exchange going so Hoosiers don't lose subsidy if the court decision holds. One option I've seen is for states to contract with healthcare.gov. Or maybe Indiana isn't really interested in healthcare insurance coverage for Hoosiers.

  3. So, how much did either of YOU contribute? HGH Thank you Mr. Ozdemir for your investments in this city and your contribution to the arts.

  4. So heres brilliant planning for you...build a $30 M sports complex with tax dollars, yet send all the hotel tax revenue to Carmel and Fishers. Westfield will unlikely never see a payback but the hotel "centers" of Carmel and Fishers will get rich. Lousy strategy Andy Cook!

  5. AlanB, this is how it works...A corporate welfare queen makes a tiny contribution to the arts and gets tons of positive media from outlets like the IBJ. In turn, they are more easily to get their 10s of millions of dollars of corporate welfare (ironically from the same people who are against welfare for humans).

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