AMA: Make insurance exchanges 'open marketplaces'

Health insurance exchanges should be structured using an "open marketplace" model to increase competition and maximize patient choice, the American Medical Association (AMA) said during its semi-annual meeting last week.

In voting to endorse the more relaxed model, the AMA throws its considerable weight behind the option insurers already strongly advocate, adding pressure on states to allow all insurers that meet the minimum standards outlined in the reform law to participate in their exchanges, reports Reuters.

About 500 AMA representatives, with delegates from every state, held an open market exchange resolution vote, opting for the open market model "with strong patient and physician protections in place," reports Live Insurance News.

The AMA is worried that the alternative approach for exchanges, known as an "active purchaser" model, could lead to high concentration levels in the insurance market that limit doctors' ability to negotiate with insurers and jeopardize free competition among plans based on price and quality, Reuters notes.

Allowing all insurers access to exchanges enhances competition among payers, which gives doctors more bargaining power in setting their rates, according to The Hill's Healthwatch. "If health insurance markets remain highly-concentrated, or become even more so, which is a strong possibility under 'active purchaser' exchanges, there will continue to be an imbalance in the negotiating power between physicians and health insurance issuers," the AMA said in a report, notes Healthwatch.

To learn more:
- read the Reuters article
- see the Healthwatch article
- check out the Live Insurance News article
- here's the AMA press release