Building a Competitive Insurance Marketplace in PA

Posted in:

So have you ever used Travelocity to book a flight? Or the Consumer Reports web site to research a new car?

Then you probably know the value of comparative shopping. I, for one, never book a flight before comparing just about every option and airline. What is the cheapest day of the week to fly, which airline offers nonstop flights, how long will I be in the air?

As Antoinette Kraus of the Pennsylvania Health Access Network (PHAN) wrote in an op-ed last week:

Sites like Travelocity have made air travel, car rentals and hotel bookings more convenient, competitive and affordable.

The same can't be said for health insurance, but that's about to change. The federal Affordable Care Act calls for the creation of competitive health-insurance marketplaces by 2014 to provide individuals and small businesses with a place to buy high-quality, affordable health coverage.

Pennsylvania's Insurance Commissioner is holding hearings this month to gather public input on what the state's new health insurance marketplace should look like. Hearings were held outside Pittsburgh and Philadelphia earlier this month, with the third and final hearing planned for Tuesday in Harrisburg. Sharon Ward of the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center will be one of the testifiers at that hearing.

This is a fairly new debate at the state level. The Insurance Department hearings are intended as a first step on insurance marketplaces, or exchanges.

A lot of work lies ahead, but it is important that state policymakers incorporate some of the insurance marketplace principles outlined by PHAN, such as ensuring that an insurance marketplace is competitive and transparent, that it connects consumers with high quality health coverage that meets their needs and budgets, and that it protects consumers and serves as an industry watchdog.

At the end of the day, a competitive insurance marketplace will be good news for Pennsylvania consumers and small businesses who will be able to leverage their collective buying power and drive down costs.

Comments

1 comments posted

This is my response to a

This is my response to a letter by Dr. Samuel Metz that was published in the New York Times on August 24:Dear Editor:

Dr. Metz is absolutely right.

Pennsylvania and its municipalities and school districts are in crisis as the cost of their employees’ health benefits skyrocket.

Governments, businesses and families could save hundreds of billions if studies comparing single payer state legislation with current costs by respected researchers are any indication.

John Surma, US Steel President, has publicly supported single payer, citing a competitive disadvantage in countries with universal health care.

In Pennsylvania, health industry influence and dollars have so far - despite strong public support  -blocked passage of legislation to provide universal, comprehensive coverage  .   .

In Pittsburgh so-called “non-profits” UPMC and Highmark spend huge amounts on advertising. Walter Tsou, past president of the American Public Health Association, stated, "Those dollars should either be spent on improving patient care, prevention [or] public health...Instead, we are wasting millions at a time of recession." [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 8-15-11]

Improved Medicare for All Now!

Post new comment

Comment Policy:

Thank you for joining the conversation. Comments are limited to 1,500 characters and are subject to approval and moderation. We reserve the right to remove comments that:

  • are injurious, defamatory, profane, off-topic or inappropriate;
  • contain personal attacks or racist, sexist, homophobic, or other slurs;
  • solicit and/or advertise for personal blogs and websites or to sell products or services;
  • may infringe the copyright or intellectual property rights of others or other applicable laws or regulations; or
  • are otherwise inconsistent with the goals of this blog.

Posted comments do not necessarily represent the views of the Keystone Research Center or Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center and do not constitute official endorsement by either organization. Please note that comments will be approved during the Keystone Research Center's business hours.

If you have questions, please contact Lilienthal@pennbpc.org.

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <p> <img>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
Type the characters you see in this picture. (verify using audio)
Type the characters you see in the picture above; if you can't read them, submit the form and a new image will be generated. Not case sensitive.