In­sur­ers re­scind rescis­sions

In­sur­ers stop prac­tice, but crit­ics call it a PR move

Modern Healthcare - - Front Page - Re­becca Ve­sely

Con­sumer groups are hope­ful that health in­sur­ers will con­tinue to im­ple­ment as­pects of the new fed­eral health re­form law ahead of sched­ule, and the in­dus­try said it is eval­u­at­ing the pro­vi­sions on a case-by-case ba­sis.

This past week­end, ma­jor health in­sur­ers ended the prac­tice of retroac­tively can­cel­ing in­di­vid­u­als’ poli­cies af­ter they fall ill—four months be­fore a fed­eral ban on the prac­tice takes ef­fect.

Called “rescis­sions,” the prac­tice has been a dark stain on the in­dus­try and was out­lawed in the Pa­tient Pro­tec­tion and Af­ford­able Care Act, ef­fec­tive Sept. 1. Amid fresh re­ports that rescis­sions were con­tin­u­ing, and an out­cry from mem­bers of Congress, ma­jor in­sur­ers an­nounced last week that, as of May, plans would no longer con­duct rescis­sions.

In­sur­ers have also agreed to be­gin al­low­ing young adults up to age 26 to stay on their par­ents’ health in­surance poli­cies right away— an­other of the law’s pro­vi­sions that goes into ef­fect in Septem­ber.

In an e-mailed state­ment, Robert Zirkel­bach, spokesman for Amer­ica’s Health In­surance Plans, rep­re­sent­ing vir­tu­ally all health in­sur­ers na­tion­wide, said the group’s “mem­bers are pleased to be able to im­ple­ment some new re­forms ahead of sched­ule, and we will con­tinue to look for other op­por­tu­ni­ties to im­ple­ment the new re­forms in a man­ner that will min­i­mize dis­rup­tion and pro­vide greater peace of mind for the more than 200 mil­lion peo­ple we serve.”

“It’s a step in the right di­rec­tion,” said An­thony Wright, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of Health Ac­cess, a Cal­i­for­nia-based con­sumer group. “We want in­sur­ers to do other things in the health re­form act early, too, like pro­vid­ing ma­ter­nity cov­er­age and a ba­sic ben­e­fit pack­age.”

Wright added that he’s not overly op­ti­mistic. “We’re not hold­ing our breath,” he said.

In truth, be­cause of in­tense pub­lic scru­tiny and penal­ties in re­cent years, rescis­sions to­day are rare. “It is a pub­lic re­la­tions an­nounce­ment be­cause in­sur­ers had al­ready largely stopped do­ing this,” Wright said. Still, ban­ning rescis­sions is nec­es­sary, he added. “We feared that once the spot­light drifted away, they would start do­ing it again.”

Wel­lPoint, Unit­edHealth Group and Cigna Corp. all said last week they would stop rescis­sions, while other in­sur­ers, such as Hu­mana and Kaiser Per­ma­nente, said com­pany poli­cies are al­ready in line with the new health re­form law’s pro­vi­sions.

In a let­ter to Demo­cratic House lead­ers, Karen Ig­nagni, pres­i­dent and CEO of AHIP, wrote that mem­bers would com­ply with the re­form law’s rescis­sion stan­dards start­ing in

Wright: “It’s a step in the right di­rec­tion.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.