Threat of government insurance plan prompts insurers to lower rates for women — MedCity morning read, May 6

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Where does your health insurance dollar go?U. S. health insurance companies are offering to cut insurance rates for millions of  woman and to accept close federal regulation of their industry in a bid to head off creation of a government health plan, according to an Associated Press story published in the Los Angeles Times.

Karen Ignagni, president of America’s Health Insurance Plans, the national association representing nearly 1,300 health care insurers, told Congress Tuesday that her industry is willing to accept a series of consumer protections they say could add up to a fairer marketplace and cut the ranks of the 50 million uninsured.

“I do not accept the premise that to keep the [private] plans honest  you need a public program,” Ignagni told the Senate Finance Committee (pdf), which is helping to shape the nation’s $2.5 trillion health care reform effort, the AP said.

President Obama and many Democrats favor a national health plan that would compete with private insurers to enroll middle-class workers and their families. The insurance companies say a government plan would drive  them out of business.

Employer groups also are leery of a  national plan because it could lure young, healthy workers with low premiums. Inclusion of these workers in employer-sp0nsored plans helps balance the risk — and the cost — of insuring older or sicker workers.

In December, the insurers’ association pitched its plan to reform the nation’s health care system so that it offers universal coverage, slows the growth of health care costs and improves the quality of health care.

The association also launched its Campaign for an American Solution, which it calls a grassroots and education campaign to build workable health care reform based on coverage, affordability, quality, value, choice and portability.

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Mary Vanac

By Mary Vanac

Mary Vanac is a co-founder of MedCity News.
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