Health insurance broker sees reform dangers

Published 5:00 pm Friday, March 26, 2010

by Glenn HanfordTryon Insurance AgentThe details of the new healthcare legislation are not totally understood, but some things are known:

The impact on insurance brokers, such as myself, will be virtually non-existent. Individual and group health insurance policies will continue to be sold by agents and brokers who represent the various insurance companies in each state.
Insurance companies will now be required to insure all applicants, regardless of their health status. This is a good thing for those who have previously been uninsurable. The problem may be… at what cost?
It appears that the insurance companies will still be able to set the rates they will charge these previously uninsurable people. Will the increased costs be charged only to the high-risk people or will the increased costs be divided up among all the insured people that an insurance company covers? If the latter happens, people will see the cost of their health insurance policies rise, not decrease.
Rates paid to doctors and hospitals for the treatment of Medicare participants are supposed to go down. Will doctors and hospitals continue to accept Medicare and Medicaid participants? No one knows. If doctors and hospitals refuse to participate, the program falls apart.
It has recently been reported that Walgreens Pharmacies will no longer fill prescriptions for new Medicaid patients in the state of Washington because it is a money losing proposition. What happens if other pharmacies make the same decision?
The real problem with the health care legislation is that it does nothing to address the increasing costs of health coverage. There is nothing to increase competition, there is nothing to address tort reform. The only action to lower costs is the federal government saying they are just going to pay less to doctors and hospitals when they provide treatment to those people on Medicare and Medicaid. What happens when doctors and hospitals stop accepting those people because reimbursement is not adequate?

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