In a country as rich in resources as ours, every American should have health insurance and access to regular health care. Health insurance should truly insure. We should have policies that support the basic principle of insurance, to spread risk across a large, diverse group in a way that provides security to people and keeps rates affordable.
Control Health Insurance Costs
I am the owner of a small business. We have 32 employees, 17 of whom are on our plan. We provide health insurance for our employees and do not pass along the cost because we believe it is our responsibilities as an employer to provide good benefits to our workers. We pay over $150,000 in insurance costs and received notice of a 13 percent increase this year – the smallest increase we have seen in three years.
Health care costs are squeezing small businesses and pushing many to drop insurance for their employees, leaving workers to pay for health insurance with after-tax dollars or forego insurance. Having more uninsured and under-insured people means that the rest of us lucky enough to have insurance have to pay more to provide services to others through, for example, more emergency room visits.
Virginia's health insurance costs continue to explode every after medical malpractice liablity reforms which have been negotiated and agreed to by lawyer and doctor organizations. Virginia has one of the most restrictive damage caps and pre-filing expert certification rules in the country to prevent unnecessary litigation. Malpractice reform is not a healthcare issue in Virginia.
We also must ensure that Virginia's Bureau of Insurance is properly vetting insurance rate increases. Health insurance companies are permitted to keep reserves, but those reserves must be reasonable.
End Pre-Existing Condition Exclusions
As small businesses stop providing health care, pre-existing condition exclusions are a significant impediment towards individuals acquiring care. A new study by the Department of Health and Human Services found that 36% of individuals who attempted to obtain individual health insurance coverage were discriminated against due to their pre-existing condition. I have seen the effects of this with my clients who need to seek insurance after a divorce or a car accident which occurred through no fault of their own.
Properly Fund Medicaid
Medicaid is our federal-state health insurance program for low-income persons. Most of Virginia's Medicaid recipients are children, the elderly, and blind or disabled persons. Despite being a relatively wealthy state, Virginia has one of the most restrictive Medicaid programs in the United States ranking 48th of 51.
Virginia has also repeatedly cut Medicaid reimbursements to the point where most doctors will not accept Medicaid and hospitals are forced to push unfunded costs back on to private insurance patients. Virginia must do better.
I will push for fair insurance practices:
- We should explore the prohibition of insurance denials for “pre-existing conditions.”
- We should bolster state plans for those who cannot afford private plans.
- Insurers should not be allowed to “cherry pick” their subscribers.
- Insurers should not dictate medical decisions.
- Properly fund Medicaid commensurate with our ability to pay
- A serious illness can bankrupt a family. We should make sure that any lifetime insurance limits reflect today’s realities and prices.