Blue Cross Reform Pending: Will Health Insurance Be Any More Affordable?

by Jerrold Bartholomew

Blue Cross Blue Shield of MichiganSeveral reforms to Michigan’s Blue Cross Health Insurance are currently pending in the Michigan Legislature. Proponents hope that these reforms will help reduce the costs of health care in Michigan, while advocates for the health insurance industry voice concerns about declining revenues and increased costs. The issues are complicated, but it seems fair to say that health care is only getting more expensive as the system continues to absorb the shock of a growing retiree population. The system is further strained here in Michigan by increased demands for individual coverage, a demographic that provides financial difficulties for insurers because of the disproportionate number of high-risk cases. Employment based coverage provides greater opportunity for insurance companies to manage risk because the varied population is more likely to include healthy individuals who opt for coverage because it is paid for at least in part by the employer. The key is of course sustaining the highest quality of care for the greatest number of people. As noted in Crain’s Detroit Business:

“Throughout the process one point has become clear, that more and more people are finding themselves in need of individual coverage, but the system does little to help them. As the bills go back to the House, we are hopeful that there will be meaningful solutions on this important issue,” Blue Cross said.

Blue Cross officials have said the individual market needs new rules to accommodate a growing number of people expected to join it over the next five years. The Blues argued for the high-risk insurance pool, which would require assessments from competing insurers after two years.

The push and pull of the legislative process is a reasonable mechanism for working out these controversial and complex topics. There is no easy solution to the pressure that health care costs place on the economy as a whole or the individual retiree’s monthly budget. The key is to remain informed and involved in the process.

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