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New Rules Proposed to Improve the Accountability of Private Health Insurance Companies

Speaking at a conference on the subject of liberal health policy last week on Thursday, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a Democrat from Massachusetts, proposed new rules to compel private insurance companies to become responsive to the healthcare needs of Americans.

Warren was speaking at the annual gathering of Families USA which is a consumer advocacy group. She emphasized that she supported efforts to expand public health insurance programs which were introduced by Sen. Bernie Sanders which would include a single-payer bill and expand Medicare to all citizens of America.

What is Senator Warren trying to accomplish?

Do the proposals suggested by Sen. Warren indicate an ulterior motive to be nominated as a presidential candidate for 2020?

Warren, while speaking at the gathering, mentioned that the federal government has to impose new standards on private insurance companies to carry forward the accomplishments of Obamacare which is also known as the Affordable Care Act. Warren did not hesitate to mention that private insurance companies were not supporting Americans. She further emphasized that the healthcare of Americans could not be held hostage by insurance companies who are prominent in attacking fresh healthcare proposals while at the same time refusing to do better themselves.

Warren suggested a plan to rein private insurers with a three-part plan which includes the following:

  • A crackdown on the practice of shifting costs to consumers.
  • Forcing private insurance companies to provide coverage which would be as affordable as Medicare or Medicaid.
  • Resistance by private health insurance companies should be met sternly if they refused to comply with the first two suggestions.

Can private health insurance companies provide policies as affordable as Medicare or Medicaid?

Warren has mentioned that it was necessary to forbid practices of insurance companies of cheating people by changing the network of healthcare providers covered by them and also removing the coverage of certain drugs during the middle of the year.

Warren also suggested that private insurance companies should be subjected to cost and quality guidelines of the highest order to bring them at par with Medicaid and Medicare. Private insurance companies are only covering $.60-$.70 for every dollar while Medicaid and Medicare are providing consumers better value and covering up to $.84 for every dollar, she mentioned.

Perhaps the most innovative idea suggested by the senator was the mechanism for the enforcement of the changes. She borrowed on a model which is in place in New York and proposed that private insurance companies should be participating in the Affordable Care Act exchanges by bidding on Medicaid and Medicare.

The senator also mentioned that if insurance companies wanted to bid on federal healthcare contracts of the profitable kind, they must also offer private insurance plans of the basic variety of individuals despite them not being attractive for investors in insurance companies.

Important policy announcements are frequently made at the Families USA conference by Democratic presidential contenders, and in 2007, Barack Obama had used this platform to present his vision for universal healthcare. Elizabeth Warren is being considered as one of the contenders for the nomination as a presidential candidate for the Democrats in 2020.

Will private health insurance companies consider the proposals seriously?

Private health insurance companies are unlikely to consider the proposals seriously because the Families USA platform has often been used by Democratic presidential nominees to further their cause.

It is very well-known that the present administration has been undermining the protections offered by the Affordable Care Act and has also used tax legislation to end the mandate for individual insurance. Even before Sen. Warren introduced her latest proposals, it has been observed that 28 million Americans are either uninsured or underinsured. Under these circumstances, private insurance companies are likely to believe that the proposals are just being made by potential presidential candidates of the Democratic Party, and project them as ideas of reform which they would introduce if elected to office in 2020. The insurance lobby is unlikely to consider the proposals seriously because it would be difficult for them to achieve universal coverage within the realm of the system of private insurance.

Information is also available that Sen. Warren is considered as one of the most progressive sitting senators after Bernie Sanders and is making an attempt to establish her authority on the policy of healthcare. The rules proposed by Sen. Warren were just an attempt to promote herself as a presidential nominee for 2020, considering that the Families USA platform has often been used by presidential nominees of the Democrats to further their cause. The questions raised by Sen. Warren have been in the public eye for quite a long time and shouldn’t surprise or lead an individual to believe that dramatic changes which can make private insurance companies more accountable will be enforced soon.

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