As lawmakers approach the end of the 2013 legislative session, they have the key to holding the line on healthcare costs and making sure health insurance is accessible in Connecticut.

Several health benefit mandates still on table could upset implementation of federal healthcare legislation and reduce access to affordable health insurance. 

Healthcare mandates are special services or procedures that the legislature requires insurers to include in their plans. But they come with a cost that drives up the price tag of health insurance. 

With implementation of federal healthcare legislation only months away the state’s Essential Health Benefit package (the group of benefits that insurers must offer come 2014) has already been adopted and any new mandated benefits will be a direct cost to the state as well as employers and their employees. 

Even more to the point, the purpose of adopting the Essential Health Benefit package was to include all of the “essential” health benefits. New mandates under consideration now were not included in the package that was already adopted. Here are the most significant cost driving mandates: 

SB 599:  Under federal healthcare legislation, insurers will cover existing prescription drugs during any appeal process but this bill goes even further and mandates insurers immediately authorize and pay for new prescription drugs during any appeal process. This negates cost-saving step therapy procedures and drives up cost but also brings into question safety protocols. 

Four other very costly new health benefit mandates (HB 6320, HB 6546, SB 862, SB 956) will drive up premiums, making it more expensive and therefore more difficult for employers and their employees to afford their health insurance.  

Employer Fee

In addition, the legislature is considering a bill (HB 6614) that requires some employers to pay a fee to the state if a certain number of their employees or their employees’ dependents opt-in to the state’s subsidized healthcare program, HUSKY A or B.

This not only frustrates implementation of federal healthcare legislation but it also penalizes employers even if they offer healthcare insurance coverage and therefore should be rejected.

Antitrust Runaround

Finally, HB 6431 circumvents the state’s antitrust law by exempting doctors’ contract negotiations with hospitals and other organizations.

CBIA opposes this bill because it would benefit physicians at the expense of consumers, causing prices to increase even further. 

With only a few days left of this session it is vital that these costly bills are rejected. Federal healthcare legislation is game-changing and further modifications at this time will only frustrate that process.

Furthermore, low-cost insurance is key to increasing access and the bills summarized above will only drive-up cost and consequently decrease access. 

For more information, contact CBIA’s Jennifer Herz at 860.244.1921 or jennifer.herz@cbia.com.