One of Missouri’s largest providers of health insurance benefits insists the version of health insurance reform about to be passed by the U.S. Senate does not do enough to lower costs – because it does not do enough to require all individuals to be insured. Wellpoint, parent company of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Missouri, insists the ideal situation for cost effectiveness involves expanding the pool of insured to include healthy individuals who might not purchase coverage now.
Brad Fluegel, Wellpoint’s Vice President & Chief Strategy Officer, says rates for many Missourians will increase dramatically because of the legislation that requires companies to cover those with pre-existing conditions, but does not do enough to have healthy people included in the pool of the insured to balance out the costs.
“In order to ensure that we are able to maintain adequate rates for people we need to be sure that everybody is insured in the system,” said Fluegel in an interview with the Missourinet. “If people can wait until they’re sick to buy coverage, those free riders are really just transferring costs onto those who do the right thing and actually buy health insurance coverage.”
There is a coverage mandate in the bill before the Senate, as well as in the one passed by the House, but it is not seen as being strong enough.
“There certainly is a coverage requirement in the Senate bill as well as in the House bill,” said Fluegel. “For most Americans that penalty is very, very modest. For most Americans it would be beginning at $95, which is substantially less than the cost of that coverage.”
The House version has already passed that chamber. The Senate is expected to vote on its version of health care reform on Christmas Eve. Early in the new year the House could accept the Senate version or opt for a conference committee in which the two chambers’ versions are reconciled.