AHIP President Calls For New Level Of Insurance Under Health Law

A new tier of coverage should be added to the health law’s online marketplaces, or exchanges, that would be less comprehensive than what plans are now required to offer, the head of the health insurance industry’s trade group said Sunday.

“I would create a lower tier, so that people could gradually get into the program, so they could be part of the risk pool, so we don’t hold the healthier people outside,” Karen Ignagni, president and CEO of American’s Health Insurance Plans, said in an interview on C-SPAN’s Newsmakers.  “What I would do is give people more choices.”

Plans on and off the health law’s exchanges are required to cover a package of essential health benefits, including hospitalization, maternity and newborn care, pediatric care and prescription drugs.  Ignagni said that some people who had not purchased that coverage before don’t want to do so now and want other choices.  Requiring such comprehensive coverage may be “a bridge too far” for some people, she said.

The health law features four tiers of coverage – platinum, gold, silver and bronze – plus a catastrophic option open to people under 30, people who qualify for hardship exemptions and some people in the individual market whose plans were cancelled because they did not comply with the health law.

In the interview, Ignagni also said while the health law’s website, healthcare.gov, is working far better now for consumers than at its technologically troubled Oct. 1 launch, “much work remains” on the “back end” functions that insurers depend on to get information about enrollees and payment information.

“The whole finance package is left to be built. How do the plans receive their premium subsidies [from the federal government] for the individuals who are eligible for them and ultimately how do we reconcile with the exchange in terms of the people they think we have and the people we really have,” she said.