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AHIP President Calls For New Level Of Insurance Under Health Law

By Mary Agnes Carey

March 24th, 2014, 5:00 AM

A new tier of coverage should be added to the health law’s online marketplaces, or exchanges, that would be less comprehensive than what plans are now required to offer, the head of the health insurance industry’s trade group said Sunday.

“I would create a lower tier, so that people could gradually get into the program, so they could be part of the risk pool, so we don’t hold the healthier people outside,” Karen Ignagni, president and CEO of American’s Health Insurance Plans, said in an interview on C-SPAN’s Newsmakers.  “What I would do is give people more choices.”

Plans on and off the health law’s exchanges are required to cover a package of essential health benefits, including hospitalization, maternity and newborn care, pediatric care and prescription drugs.  Ignagni said that some people who had not purchased that coverage before don’t want to do so now and want other choices.  Requiring such comprehensive coverage may be “a bridge too far” for some people, she said.

The health law features four tiers of coverage – platinum, gold, silver and bronze – plus a catastrophic option open to people under 30, people who qualify for hardship exemptions and some people in the individual market whose plans were cancelled because they did not comply with the health law.

In the interview, Ignagni also said while the health law’s website,, is working far better now for consumers than at its technologically troubled Oct. 1 launch, “much work remains” on the “back end” functions that insurers depend on to get information about enrollees and payment information.

“The whole finance package is left to be built. How do the plans receive their premium subsidies [from the federal government] for the individuals who are eligible for them and ultimately how do we reconcile with the exchange in terms of the people they think we have and the people we really have,” she said.

11 Responses to “AHIP President Calls For New Level Of Insurance Under Health Law”

  1. sarah says:

    Medicare Advantage is a massive scam that gives huge profits for the private insurers at taxpayer expense. Today, the traditional Medicare program must pay outrageous reimbursement payments for expensive Medicare Advantage plans that are offered to seniors. When private insurers decide to accept reasonable reimbursement payments for Medicare Advantage that are equal to the rate Medicare pays for traditional Medicare patients, then Medicare Advantage plans will become more fair. Today, Medicare Advantage has become way too expensive for consumers while private insurers continue to enjoy outrageous profits created by Medicare Advantage plans. It’s time to scale down Medicare Advantage reimbursements so the expense resembles traditional Medicare.

  2. evan says:

    After watching this video, I’m convinced that AHIP has one primary goal. To protect the outrageous profits of the private insurance industry. Not much was mentioned in the video about protecting consumers. This video is further evidence that America needs to migrate to a single-payer universal government run healthcare system that puts the consumer’s interests as the top priority. We need to see an end to private insurance when it comes to our healthcare system. Other industrialized nations have been successfully offering single-payer universal government run healthcare for decades. Why can’t we? It’s time to end the evil influence of the healthcare lobby in Washington and move to traditional Medicare plan for all Americans.

  3. Erin says:

    Perhaps we should take Ms. Ignagni’s advice and offer a lower tier of insurance on the exchanges. In keeping with the precious medal scheme we could call it “pyrite” or fool’s gold. Insurers will collect premiums but consumers will be underinsured and stuck with high deductibles, co-payments and co-insurance. Benefits, will, of course be extremely limited. Networks of licensed professionals will be inadequate and wait times high. But who cares?
    Quackery will be a covered benefit so long as witch doctors agree to volume discounts with insurers. It’s almost too perfect. Why didn’t someone think of this sooner?

  4. JJ says:

    You cannot trust AHIP. .Look at the fee that they charge the agent when you have to pre-certify for Med Advantage and Part D every year. Why does it cost $100 to take a test you do not need to take. The seniors should be taking the test, not the agents. Ahip is a rip to agents and they know it. They went along with Obam care and look how smart that was

  5. Pam says:

    It’s time for Congress to consider single-payer healthcare. If not single-payer, then at least offer a public option on the health exchange. Private insurance companies have rigged the game in their favor. They have no real competition. It’s time the private insurers had to compete with a government run public option. Why are the private insurers so afraid of a public option? Bunch of wimps!

  6. Wes says:

    Evan and Pam: We do not need a single-payer plan or government provided health insurance. Italy, Greece and Venezuela are examples of government provided healthcare insurance and each country went bankrupt as a result. Europe and Canada have nationalized health care and the residents pay about 75-80% in taxes to get all the freebees. I do not believe this is what we want. The private sector needs some tweaking to make it better I grant you. Hillary Clinton was told by the then president of Greece that he could not understand why the US would consider a national health system when the same plan bankrupted his country. I think that it is time to learn from history and apply what we have learned.
    I have been a health insurance agent for 25 years and this Obamacare leaves a lot to be desired. The whole plan should be scrapped as of yesterday.

  7. jerry says:

    duhhhhh. The real question is why that type of choice wasn’t available from the get go. Its not like the industry doesn’t know how to do that and to price it correctly. But when the guy writing the plan has never made a payroll out of his own pocket, you tend to get ideas that don’t work

  8. Pam says:

    Insurance agent? Before Obamacare, weren’t insurance agents the shysters that sold you a healthcare policy that only worked as long as you stayed healthy? Before Obamacare, weren’t insurance agents the people that sold you a policy that automatically canceled at the first sign of illness or injury? Yeah! Right! Like I really trust insurance agents! Nothing but a bunch of profit driven bums! The sooner American has a healthcare system that’s free of insurance agents and insurance companies, the better! Losers!