Have a Heart for Kids Day rally, 2015

New rules should give families affordable choices for health coverage

Adam 02/08/12

 

The federal Affordable Care Act was signed into law nearly two years ago. Since then, we at the Children’s Alliance, alongside health advocates across the state, have been working to make health care reform a reality in Washington.

In the next few weeks, health care leaders in the state House and Senate will take a crucial next step: They’ll set up ground rules for the state’s new Health Insurance Exchange.

This Exchange will allow families to purchase health coverage in a whole new way. It will be a marketplace offering an array of health coverage plans that are more affordable, accessible, and easier to understand.

The House and Senate are now considering two bills that will decide what the Exchange will look like. Children need these bills to set up rules that:

  • Make sure they have access to necessary benefits;
  • Help their families find a nearby doctor who speaks their language;
  • Allow families to buy an insurance plan that is easy to understand, affordable, and includes the benefits they need;
  • Make sure enough insurers participate, so that the plans in the marketplace are competitive and diverse.

We are telling lawmakers that these ground rules should require insurers in our state to offer plans in the Exchange, and that the plans should offer the kinds of benefits that kids need. These elements will set up families for better health.

In today’s insurance market, families are offered a wide and confusing jumble of health plan choices that may not be affordable, especially to those who need it the most. Parents should not have to be experts in insurance law to choose a health plan that keeps their kids healthy; nor should they have to travel 50 miles to get their kids the care they need.

Making sure insurance companies participate in the Exchange and encouraging a wide selection of plans is necessary to support a successful marketplace where consumers can get the health plan that’s best for them, for the best value. Such rules will make it easier for families to access the plans they need, and make real competition possible.

These rules are particularly important for families who do not have access to the Exchange due to their immigration status. If our state’s Insurance Commissioner can regulate the outside market so that it mirrors the Exchange market, immigrant families will have greater access to affordable, comprehensive plans.

A balanced, well regulated insurance market will encourage appropriate benefits for people of all ages. This is a prime opportunity to shape an insurance market where the best interests of children and families come first.  With a healthy Exchange, families stop focusing on health insurance, and start focusing on health care.