MICHIGAN HEALTH INSURANCE
May 3, 2009 -- With health insurance costs and the number of uninsured people rising, Michigan House Democrats are to introduce proposals today that aim to make health coverage more affordable and to expand government programs for lower-income children and adults.
Rep. Marc Corriveau, D-Northville, a chief sponsor of the legislation, told the Free Press on Friday that the legislation would:
• Prohibit insurers from rejecting applicants with chronic health problems or raising rates excessively on renewal.
• Create a Michigan Catastrophic Protection Plan that would collect fees from insurers, based on their market share, which would pay health claims of more than $25,000 for any insured Michigander. It would be managed by Michigan's Office of Financial and Insurance Regulation.
• Expand government programs for children and adults by requiring the state's nonprofit insurers -- Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and all HMOs -- to pay money equal to their tax breaks. That's $80 million for Blue Cross alone.
• Prohibit higher rates for women, as now occurs, often charged to cover the possibility of pregnancy-related care.
• Give discounts for healthy behavior, including not smoking.
Republicans are to introduce their own proposals Wednesday, Sen. Thomas George, R-Kalamazoo, said Friday. Those bills center on expanding public insurance plans to cover more people, he said.
The bills come after the Legislature failed to reach an agreement last year after more than two years of hearings about how to change Michigan's health insurance market.
Michigan's uninsured rate is growing, as more people lose jobs or workplace coverage, as is the cost of insurance.
About 1.2 million Michiganders have no insurance. The average individual plan in Michigan cost $4,118 in 2008, according to America's Health Insurance Plans, an industry group.
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