Insurance company hesitant to offer ‘Mandate Lite’ plans

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A Kansas Insurance Company says it’s hesitant to offer stripped down health care plans to its consumers.

People in support of this ‘Mandate Lite’ law say it will offer more affordable options, but one insurance company fears it could make premiums more expensive for everyone else.

“We don’t intend to sell mandate lite policies anytime soon,” Says Mary Beth Chambers with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas, which  has 140 health care plans ready for consumers this fall under the Affordable Care Act requirements. When it comes to stripped down health care options, there are questions.

“How that fits within Federal law and how we can assure that we are following both state and Federal law,” Chambers adds.

Kansas Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger says many companies won’t offer these options unless they know they comply with the ACA.

“Some of the other limited benefit plans are not affected by the ACA and will still be supplemental plans,” Praeger says, “So if it’s limited in terms of it qualifying as a supplemental plan, maybe, but if it tries to pass itself off as a Mandate Lite plan, as an insurance but not comprehensive, they may be in violation.”

David Powell, who wrote this law, says people have different health needs and Mandate Lite allows them to decide their own coverage.

“I’m all about choices and I think that’s the big key here,” Powell says.

Some, however, say that could take healthy people out of the ACA insurance pool.

“The larger insurance pool could have the potential to have the people that are maybe a little sicker, who require more medical care and therefore have more claims,” Chambers says, “And potentially over time could drive up the premiums for the people in that pool.”

How soon these Mandate Lite options could be available remains unknown.

“I don’t think it would be a major effort to design them,” Powell says, “It’s going to take some thought on pricing, but how quickly the department would go through and approve them, that’s going to determine how quickly they are on the market.”

“Our product portfolio for 2014 has been set,” Chambers says, “So i would say it could be a while.”

Powell says there are currently 10 other states who have a Mandate Lite law like this one, including Utah. He says there, Blue Cross and Blue Shield has about 1,000 individuals and small businesses on these plans.

Insurance companies were required to turn in their plans by May 1st under the Affordable Care Act requirements, just a few weeks after the Mandate Lite law was signed in.



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