Vinehout Proposes Health Exchange to Help Individuals, Farmers and Small Businesses
“The single biggest help Wisconsin can provide to small business is affordable health insurance,” Sen. Vinehout, D-Alma, told health insurance underwriters in a speech Tuesday in Madison.
“Business leaders across the state tell me out-of-control health insurance costs are limiting job growth,” said Vinehout who is running for Governor. “Would-be entrepreneurs say the fear of losing their existing insurance is the reason they haven’t started their new business.”
A health insurance exchange run by an independent authority would create the kind of competitive market that would hold down costs and make insurance more accessible, Vinehout said.
Vinehout listed five standards an exchange must meet to be successful.
- The exchange must provide real apples-to-apples comparison of insurance plans with regard to cost, benefits and quality.
- The exchange should work to maximize the size of the pool of insurance buyers and minimize the risk of adverse selection.
- The exchange should protect the role of agents and the human resource services they provide to small businesses and individuals.
- The exchange should be protected from the political winds of change.
- The exchange must operate under ‘good government’ principles that give all parties confidence that decisions are fair, and operations are accountable and transparent.
“The exchange would give individuals, business owners and their agents a virtual marketplace where insurance companies would post their plans in a way that makes accurate and simple comparison possible,” Vinehout said.
“The exchange would rate plans based on benefits. Information on quality, medical performance and price would all be available. Employers and their agents will be able to easily compare the potential price, benefits and quality of each choice.
“Data from the state employee’s plan and actuarial analysis by the Governor’s own consultants provide evidence that this kind of managed competition has the potential to rein in costs. Transparency and true apples-to-apples comparisons are the biggest contributors to cost containment,” Vinehout said.
Vinehout’s plan would be an option for all employers with 100 employees or less – the maximum allowed by federal law – making the buying group as strong as possible.
Vinehout also proposed that appointees to the authority running the exchange must have experience in health care but not be employed in health care, avoid financial conflicts of interest, and disclose all economic interests. The authority would be subject to all open meetings and open records laws and undergo regular performance and financial audits.
“The Governor has refused to start work on creating a health exchange for Wisconsin, turning back $35 million to the federal government that could have been used to plan and implement a competitive and transparent health insurance marketplace. The decision was motivated by politics and not in the best interest of the people of Wisconsin,” Vinehout said.
“His action leaves Wisconsin individuals, farmers and small businesses without a means of navigating the complexities of health care in today’s world.”