Maryland HIX Council Recommends Continued Carrier Support Of Small Groups
In response to health reform efforts in the State of Maryland, spurred by the upcoming institution of health insurance exchanges (or HIX), the State is urging insurance carriers and branches to continue offering small-group coverage options when the exchanges begin later in the year.
The MHBE, group commenting to lawmakers on the upcoming legislation and guidelines, wants carriers to continue offering employers insurance, even when they have less than fifty regular eligible employees on the payroll.
The HBEC Act passed last year, and gave authorization for the state to create its first HIX. The MBHE made recommendations concerning the new plan, as well as recommendations on how the HIX could contract with carriers, how small business coverage should be handled, how the program logistics should work, and how to adopt guidelines to keep risk factors within acceptable parameters. The recommendations also discuss public information and training about these new avenues for obtaining coverage.
The report also addresses issues concerning the PPAC act in the state, which is meant to safeguard patients and create economical coverage for compliance with insurance requirements under the law.
The legislature has made special efforts to gear up for the upcoming bill, with legislation that provides all the required support to implement PPAC in Maryland. Should the reform pass both the republican vote and the scrutiny of the Supreme Court, every state in the union will be required to institute a HIX within the next two years. These arrangements are meant to protect consumers by offering competitive coverage costs and federal support for those who cannot pay for standard coverage on their own, for those who do not receive it through an employer.
In the current incarnation of the health reform legislation, consumers must have access to impartial “navigators” – who are not compensated by carriers. These individuals engage in assisting people to find the best coverage option at a competitive rate. Unfortunately, Maryland is one of many other states that have a current system in place that feature insurers as navigators. Under the new law, this will no longer be permissible. This leaves states like Maryland tasked with rejuvenating their systems, rather than duplicating their processes.