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Monday, March 22, 2010

Passage of national health care reform shouldn’t stall Michigan reform efforts

Sunday’s historic vote by the U.S. House to approve health care reform means an end to the widespread insurance industry practice of denying coverage to patients with pre-existing conditions.

That’s essentially the same thing Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan has long sought as part of our push to enact individual health insurance market reforms in Michigan.

The prohibition against insurers being able to cherry pick younger, healthier patients doesn’t fully kick in until 2014. Meanwhile, the Blues continue to offer coverage to anyone who needs it regardless of health status or pre-existing conditions.

While we’re proud of our unique mission as insurer of last resort, we’ve suffered financially in an uneven playing field for insurers in Michigan. We lost more than $280 million in 2009 on our individual lines of business.

Reforming our own regulatory system to prepare it for the changes to come is like getting your house in order before guests arrive. Blue Cross supports efforts to enact guarantee issue, community rating to set all rates equally regardless of personal health status, and reinsurance, a mechanism whereby all insurers would share the costs of the most expensive claims. We also encourage state lawmakers to address our antiquated regulatory system and update it to enable a more competitive market in Michigan.

Michigan cannot afford to wait any longer.

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