Michigan Bill To Reduce Cost Of Private Health Insurance

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The Michigan Senate onThursday voted 23-13 to approve compromise legislation that would expand accessto individual health insurance policies and make them more affordable, the Detroit News reports. One provision in the legislationwould mandate that the state maintain oversight of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan rate increases. As the state's "insurerof last resort," BCBS is required to accept all customers, even those withpre-existing conditions, according to the News. The legislationalso would reduce the waiting period for people with pre-existing conditionsfrom 12 months to six months. Another provision would give the state the powerto order refunds for policyholders the state deems were overcharged.

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The legislation does not include a provision in the state House's version ofthe bill that called for creating a high-risk pool and requiring contributionsfrom insurers and BCBS. The pool would be administered by BCBS, according tothe House bill. The Senate measure instead would require the state to conduct astudy within the next year to see if the pool is necessary and how it wouldaffect insurance rates (Rogers, Detroit News, 5/2). The Housepassed its legislation in October 2007.

The House can approve the Senate legislation without changes or bring it to aconference committee to settle the differences between the two chambers. The"legislative fight" this session "centers on what are the bestways to expand individuals' access to singular policies, which now cover about322,000" Michigan residents, according to the Detroit Free Press (Anstett, Detroit Free Press,5/2).

Reprintedwith permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, and sign upfor email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . The Kaiser Daily Health PolicyReport is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J.Kaiser Family Foundation.

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