Utah Passes NetCare As Alternative To COBRA
The Utah Senate on Thursday voted 27-0 to pass an amended version of legislation (HB 188) that would establish health plans called NetCare to serve as an alternative to COBRA programs for unemployed state residents, the Salt Lake Tribune reports (McKitrick, Salt Lake Tribune, 3/5).
According to the NetCare health insurance legislation, beginning in January 2010, it will be offered to small employers, individuals and employees who have lost their jobs. NetCare would not have to comply with state benefit mandates and could have higher deductibles than the average large group health insurance plan.
The plans also would be required to provide incentives for healthy behaviors and cover well-child exams and immunizations up to age five (Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, 2/23). NetCare health insurance plans would cover preventive care, primary care and prescriptions, state Sen. Greg Bell (R) said. The bill also would establish by 2010 an Internet portal where small-employer groups could offer "streamlined insurance options" to their workers, according to the Tribune.
Now, NetCare's amended measure will go back to the state House for final approval (Salt Lake Tribune, 3/5). It is expected that NetCare's premiums will be the third of the cost of large group health insurance plans.
The NetCare plan of Utah will be offered as a transition plan to employees leaving their employers plan, for a duration of 12 months. After 12 months, the former employee would then have to reapply as an individual to be considered for coverage. It will be offered to individuals and families. NetCare could also be purchased as a group plan.
NetCare as an alternative to COBRA in Utah will focus on wellness, offering incentives, such as lower deductibles and premiums for making healthy lifestyle changes. Preventive care would be inexpensive; $5 preventive care visits (with an annual maximum of $300) before the deductible kicked in. The paln will pay 70% of hospital and maternity services, after the deductible was met.
According to Utahnetcare.com it the plan will offer $15 generic prescriptions, and name brand prescriptions at 50% of retail.