Discrimination accusations plague insurers

As a new round of criticism rolls in over the Affordable Care Act, payers face more attacks--this time over allegations of discrimination, reports the Associated Press.

In a recent letter to the Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell, more than 300 patient advocacy groups accused insurers of discriminating against patients with health conditions; a violation under the ACA's nondiscrimination provisions, notes the AP.

Insurers can help clear up any confusion about cost-control by making it clear that there isn't any kind of discrimination against people with chronic conditions, Kansas Health Commissioner Sandy Praeger told the AP. Praeger said enforcement action is not out of the question for payers that violate discrimination protection laws.

The America's Health Insurance Plans' (AHIP) position is that there's no discrimination because patients can choose from many plan options on the exchanges. AHIP argues that people enrolling in coverage on the exchanges have the option to choose affordable plans that include lower cost-sharing. 

Groups that signed the letter included the AIDS Institute, which has called for more comprehensive coverage of expensive drugs for those with the chronic disease. Although prices of drug treatment for HIV and AIDS have fallen, treatment can still cost upwards of $10,000 per patient annually.

Critics also want a clearer picture about the variety of coverage insurers offer, to not only inform consumers of options, but also to avoid discrimination--or the appearance of it.

To learn more:
- here's the AP story