Proposed 'public option' in Wash. called unfair

And here we thought a public option was dead. 

The Health Care Authority in the state of Washington is hoping to receive the guidance of private insurers in creating an affordable coverage alternative for the estimated 875,000 uninsured residents throughout the state. According to the Puget Sound Business Journal, such a "public option" would provide a somewhat truncated version of regular health insurance, available for $100 per month. 

Benefits that would be available under such a plan include 30 percent coinsurance for inpatient treatment and a yearly max of $75,000 for medical care, as well as maternity benefits carrying a $5,000 deductible for deliveries taking place within the first six months of enrollment. The Health Care Authority wants private insurers to tell them roughly how much they would charge for such a package. 

Some, like Donna Steward, human resources director at the Association of Washington Business, call such an idea "an unfair advantage," citing that state regulations currently prevent insurers from offering such low rates. She believes that such a plan essentially could lead to lost customers desiring cheaper insurance.

"The policy they have developed will take all good risk from the individual market and destroy the pool," Steward said. 

Republican state Sen. Cheryl Pflug has proposed a measure--SB6812--to essentially level the playing field, which the Association of Washington Healthcare Plans has already said it supports. "It would allow private healthcare insurance carriers in Washington the ability to offer products equivalent to that which the state is proposing to offer," said Sydney Zvara, executive director of the association.

To learn more:
- read this Puget Sound Business Journal article

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