Lawmakers to consider rules for health insurance market

February 20, 2013|By Michael J. Mishak

SACRAMENTO -- Lawmakers are set to consider new rules for California's health insurance market on Wednesday, including a requirement for insurers to cover consumers who have preexisting medical conditions, and limits on how much they can charge based on age.

The proposals, scheduled to be taken up by the Assembly and Senate health committees, are part of a legislative package that aims to help California implement President Obama's healthcare overhaul.

Beginning in January 2014, the federal Affordable Care Act requires most Americans to buy health insurance or pay a penalty. Gov. Jerry Brown has called a special session of the Legislature so healthcare bills that he signs can take effect within 90 days rather than next year.

The insurance rules would help clear the way for enrollment in a new state-run insurance market this fall.

But as detailed in Wednesday's Los Angeles Times, the state insurance commissioner has raised concerns about a provision that would split California into six zones for setting health insurance rates, saying such a move would drive premiums up as much as 23% for some policyholders next year.

Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones, who is set to testify before the Senate Health Committee, said he's pushing for an 18-region plan that would cap increases at 8%.

Lawmakers are trying to determine what role geography will play in insurance rates. Health insurers currently set their own rating regions, but the federal law allows states to establish their own maps.


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