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Feds won’t add any insurance coverage mandates in exchanges – for now

The Denver Business Journal reports:

Insurance providers will not have to offer any new health benefits beyond what the state of Colorado already mandates that they include in their small-benefits plans in order to sell policies in health benefits exchanges, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services HHS announced Friday. …

For an insurer to participate in these potentially lucrative exchanges, however, they are required to offer an essential benefits package that covers 10 types of services, ranging from preventive care to hospitalization to mental health care.

Business leaders feared that if the essential benefits requirement — undefined until Friday — included coverage of too many new services, it would make the plans offered through exchanges too expensive for the small businesses and individuals who don’t buy insurance now because of its costs.

Read more here: Feds allow states flexibility on ‘essential’ health benefitsDenver Post coverage here.

I’m not sure I understand this.   If a state does not already require any of the ten mandated benefits specified in ObamaCare (HR 3590, sec. 1302), then the obeying the mandate would add to existing ones.

The article continues:

Dede de Percin, executive director of the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative, expressed disappointment in the preliminary ruling …

Specifically, de Percin said this could lead to a “race to the bottom” among states in which they will require few upgrades in coverage as part of a federal law that was meant to ensure better health-care coverage for all Americans.

I think de Percin is referring to the ability for residents of one state to buy insurance that is legal in another state. That is, if any exchanges work this way. But she’s wrong. See this post for why: Buying insurance across state lines not a “race to the bottom”

Further, Scott Gottlieb argues that mandated benefits create a race to the bottom in his article: Health Insurance Exchanges: A Race To the Bottom:

[T]o afford the mandated benefits, health plans will have to shave other costs. They’ll do this the same way the Medicaid managed care plans deal with similar government rules – by offering very narrow networks of providers that patients can see. Or by cutting what health plans pay for services, even if it leaves beneficiaries with fewer providers willing to offer them access to medical care.

Remember that mandated benefits are backdoor socialized medicine.