Health insurers Aetna and Humana on Monday said they will continue to offer some of the federal health reform law's popular provisions regardless of how the U.S. Supreme Court rules on the constitutionality of the law, the AP/Sacramento Bee reports (Murphy, AP/Sacramento Bee, 6/11).
Details of Pledge
The announcements came just hours after a similar declaration by UnitedHealth Group, the nation's largest insurer (Krauskopf, Reuters, 6/11).
Aetna, Humana and UnitedHealth pledged to continue offering certain preventive services without a copayment and allow dependents to remain on their parents' policies up to age 26, the Wall Street Journal reports (Wilde Mathews, Wall Street Journal, 6/11). All three insurers also said they would continue providing clear and simple ways for enrollees to appeal coverage claim decisions.
Humana and UnitedHealth added that they will continue to stop lifetime dollar coverage limits on policies and eliminate rescissions, except in cases involving fraud. According to Reuters, it is not clear where Aetna stands on those two provisions (Reuters, 6/11).
Effects of Insurers' Announcements
The decisions by Aetna, Humana and UnitedHealth to preserve the popular, consumer-friendly provisions in the overhaul could ease pressure on Republicans who would have to consider whether to introduce legislation to maintain some of the popular provisions if the high court strikes down the law.
Several House Republicans acknowledged that the announcements indicate health care reform can come from the private sector rather than through policy changes (McCarthy, National Journal, 6/11).
Rep. Jo Ann Emerson (R-Mo.) said, "There is plenty of room for solutions in the private market, and a primary objection to the ACA remains the heavy handed, bureaucratic approach" (Kenen/Allen, Politico, 6/11).
Three Other Insurers Indicate Wait-and-See Approach
Meanwhile, three other large U.S. health insurers signaled that they would wait for the Supreme Court ruling -- which is expected within the next few weeks -- before announcing their decisions on the consumer-friendly provisions (Wayne, Bloomberg, 6/12).
The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association -- which manages 38 local member companies nationwide--- said that it could not predict how the high court would rule but that it would encourage its member plans "to offer their customers the broadest set of protections possible at an affordable price" (Zigmond, Modern Healthcare, 6/11).
WellPoint -- the nation's second-largest insurer by market value, which owns Blue Cross Blue Shield plans in 14 states -- said the company would issue specific coverage plans after the court's ruling (Bloomberg, 6/12). The insurer added that it is "fully committed to providing stability in coverage for our members" (Wall Street Journal, 6/11).
Cigna -- the fourth-largest U.S. insurer -- said it also would wait until after the court rules to announce its plans, noting it is "prepared to proceed as appropriate on behalf of our customers when the court deliberations reach their conclusion" (Bloomberg, 6/12).