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State Health Plan – fix the health system, don’t follow its worst practices

In the video in the below post, State Health Plan Director Jack Walker, speaking at a legislative hearing yesterday, indicated that the State Health Plan is considering moving towards one of the more odious private health insurance industry practices. Health insurers “cherry pick” who they cover through schemes like charging older people more for coverage. Walker is following private industry by proposing to charge younger spouses of state employees a lower rate for coverage than older spouses.

The idea is to lower costs for the State Health Plan by bringing in younger spouses. Of course, when health insurance companies charge more to older people they make it harder for older folks to get coverage and drive up NC’s skyrocketing number of people without health insurance.

The state shouldn’t be adding to this problem – let’s fix the private insurance system instead of starting to imitate it. One of the main problems the state health plan has is that state workers are older. Or, as I prefer to say, they, like me, are experienced. Short of firing all state employees and only hiring people under 30, there is little the state health plan can do to drastically increase the number of younger workers in the insurance pool.

Why not just put everyone in North Carolina in one insurance pool? Insurers could compete on price, networks and quality, and no one would have to worry about being unable to afford coverage just because they are getting older or they have a history of cancer or another pre-existing health condition.

6 Comments


  1. […] for the buyers, bank involves a lot of paperwork. Disclosures regarding the condition and history State Health Plan – fix the health system, don’t follow its worst practices – pulse.ncpolicywatch.org 03/27/2009 In the video in the below post, State Health Plan Director […]

  2. MikeNC

    March 27, 2009 at 11:16 am

    Your identification of the issues are spot on however the proposed solution to put everyone in North Carolina in one insurance pool still does not address the root cause of the problem. When are we going to start focusing on the source…HOSPITAL CHARGES???

  3. Adam Searing

    March 27, 2009 at 1:24 pm

    HAC actually has a report coming out on Monday on unwarranted variations in health care – including in hospitals – and how we can save money by reducing those variations. We’ll link to it here.

  4. Doremus

    March 27, 2009 at 1:53 pm

    Single-payer health reform bill introduced in Senate

    Would save $400 billion on bureaucracy, enough to cover all 46 million uninsured Americans.

    more at PNHP’s web site.

  5. Doremus

    March 27, 2009 at 1:55 pm

    yes Mike there are definitely perverse incentives in FFS billing by hospitals. Every single aspirin has to have a charge. Global budgeting a la Canada is the way to go.

  6. AdamL

    March 28, 2009 at 1:30 pm

    Again on Legislative Week in Review Walker said the State Health Plan is going to develop age bands. We all need to nip this idea in the bud.

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