As Congress and the administration continue to look at ways to overhaul the Affordable Care Act, it’s important to consider the hundreds of thousands of Michiganians — and millions of Americans — who will be entering the open enrollment period for individual coverage in a matter of months.
Love it or loathe it, the Affordable Care Act sets the rules for how insurance companies behave toward consumers. It’s foundational to insurers in managing our businesses, to regulators in applying the rules and to consumers in how they purchase health insurance and at what price.
At this juncture, after months of reform efforts, the best thing policymakers can do for everyone involved in American health care is to provide a level of certainty.
This should include providing clarity on the system’s cost-sharing reduction program. This has been in question for months, causing Michigan regulators to request two different sets of rate adjustments from health insurers for their Affordable Care Act Marketplace products. Continued funding for cost-sharing reductions, plus market stabilization support for the states that Congress has proposed, will go a long way toward keeping coverage affordable for people in Michigan.
Health care reform is a continuing work in progress. The issues we face — quality of care, efficiency of care delivery, cost of prescription drugs, population health and insurance regulation — are substantial and complex. Everyone has a role, not just federal and state policymakers. Insurers need to deliver our own solutions. Over the last decade, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan has worked with doctors and hospitals to improve care, lower rates of hospital emergency room use and reduce hospital readmissions. Our programs have helped us avoid billions in health care costs.
As efforts toward health reform continue, Blue Cross Blue Shield’s principles call for a system where all people are covered and where people with pre-existing conditions are protected in locally regulated markets where all insurers play by consistent rules. We are ready to work together with policymakers from both sides of the debate. We believe we can improve the system and give people the security, choice, quality and affordability they deserve.
Daniel J. Loepp is president and CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.