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Some Health Insurers Not Waiting For Supreme Court Decision

The Supreme Court should rule this week on a challenge to the federal Affordable Care Act. But some big insurance companies aren‘t waiting.

Doctor's office

Photo: Benjamin Stone (Flickr)

Health insurers have announced some policy changes even before the Supreme Court rules on the constitutionality of the health care changes backed by the Obama Administration.

Aetna, Humana and United Healthcare have all announced they‘ll keep five new coverage requirements, including coverage of dependents up to age 26, regardless of what the court decides.   The companies are also pledging to give full coverage to preventive care, abolish lifetime benefits caps, and establish clear appeals processes. And they‘re promising not to revoke coverage except in cases of fraud.

IU Center for Law and Health co-director David Orentlicher says those provisions are all overwhelmingly popular pieces within the still-controversial health care law. He says he expects most companies to follow suit eventually.

“Over time, you‘re likely to see convergence,” Orentlicher says. “If WellPoint sees that the public generally likes the added benefits, then they‘ll get pressure from their customers and they‘ll have to go along.”

Indianapolis-based WellPoint hasn‘t made any changes — a written statement says it will announce its plans shortly after the court rules. Other companies are standing pat for now as well.

But Aetna, Humana and United Healthcare still balk at the most popular provision of all: covering people with preexisting conditions. Orentlicher says there‘s no way for the companies to make that coverage economically feasible without universal coverage.

IU Center for Health Policy director Eric Wright says covering 26-year-olds is an inexpensive way for insurers to build public goodwill, since those people are less likely to have health problems.

 

Network Indiana

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