Consumer-driven plans marketed to uninsured

Insurance companies are increasingly breaking with tradition and marketing innovative plans designed to appeal to the 45 million uninsured people in the US. The insurance industry has historically looked at the uninsured with some suspicion, but that appears to be changing. With enrollment rates dropping for employer-backed plans, some insurers are beginning to look at the uninsured as a potentially valuable market. Many are offering low-cost plans designed to appeal to people put off by the high cost of existing coverage.

Aetna, UnitedHealth and the Blues are among companies experimenting with plans offering coverage to part-time workers, students and independent contractors. The trend toward basic coverage for those who otherwise wouldn't be able to afford it is a good thing, according to some critics. Others are concerned that the bare bones plans have the potential to mislead consumers.

- see this story from The Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)

PLUS: Over the weekend, there were reports that health industry leaders have been quietly meeting since late last year to look for ways to address the problem of America's growing number of uninsured. According to a story in The New York Times, the bipartisan meetings have been attended by representatives of the American Medical Association and American Hospital Association, the pharmaceutical and insurance industries, major employers, and labor unions. Story