A Quaker Lobby in the Public Interest
WHAT IT IS: A collection of health insurance programs that all meet certain basic criteria. They all offer at least a standard level and kind of benefit. They all follow rules about not excluding anyone due to prior or current medical conditions, and not raising prices or kicking anyone off the insurance plan because they use the benefits. No lifetime caps on how much you can use the plan. An “out of pocket cap” on the amount that an individual or family would have to pay on their own.
Since all the plans in the exchange offer (at least) the same benefits under the same rules, consumers could compare them based on customer service, availability of covered doctors and services, etc. In the House bill, after a certain period of time, the only plans that employers could offer as a tax-free benefit would be plans that are in the exchange.
WHAT IT ISN’T: It isn’t a one-size-fits-all plan. The important basics would be the same, but plans would vary as to where there doctors are, which medical providers accept which insurance, how good they are at explaining their program and helping consumers, and how quickly they pay their bills, both to doctors and to consumers seeking reimbursement.
FCNL’S POSITION: FCNL favors the idea of requiring employers to offer a plan that meets certain minimum standards as a tax-free benefit. Some of the bills accomplish this by placing the basic requirements in the exchange, and requiring employers to choose an “exchange” plan. That might be one way to do it. Beyond that, FCNL is neutral on exchanges. Trusted consumer organizations like Consumer Reports, AARP, and others are already able to compare plans. If all health care insurance companies are required to offer a plan that meets the basic criteria, comparisons among plans should be fairly easy and shouldn’t require a staffed and monitored entity such as an “exchange.”
OPPOSITION: None known.