Some insurers oppose health law repeal

Nancy Marshall-Genzer Nov 9, 2010
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Some insurers oppose health law repeal

Nancy Marshall-Genzer Nov 9, 2010
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KAI RYSSDAL: Here’s today’s man bites dog story — domestic policy on this one. Even as some of the Republicans who were elected to Congress earlier this month make noises about repealing the health care overhaul, one major health insurance company said today that would be a bad idea.

Marketplace’s Nancy Marshall Genzer reports.


NANCY MARSHALL GENZER: Cigna CEO David Cordani explained his opposition to repeal at a health care summit in New York. He said insurers have spent “over a year of sweat equity on formation” of the health care law. They’ve also started to implement it.

Vivian Ho is a health care economist at Rice University. She says insurers have already put a lot of energy into designing plans for the law’s new health insurance exchanges.

VIVIAN HO: To sort of see all that get thrown away and have to start all over again, that’s a waste of resources to these private insurance companies.

Insurers say they would also be hurt if certain parts of the law were overturned. Take the requirement that almost everyone buy insurance. Robert Zirkelbach is a spokesman for the insurance trade group, America’s Health Insurance Plans. He says without that mandate, only sick people would buy coverage. They wouldn’t be balanced out by healthy people in the insurance pool.

ROBERT ZIRKELBACH: What happens is there becomes an incentive for people to wait until after they get sick to purchase insurance.

But health insurers do want some changes to the law. Zirkelbach doesn’t like limits on how much premiums can vary based on the policyholder’s age.

Wendell Potter used to be a spokesman for Cigna. Now he’s a consumer advocate. He says those restrictions should remain.

WENDELL POTTER: Before reform, insurance companies charged folks in their 50s or getting close to retirement age, up to ten times as much as younger people.

Potter says more and more people in that age bracket are uninsured.

In Washington, I’m Nancy Marshall Genzer for Marketplace.

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