Presidential election will predict health reform's future

The presidential election next month will dramatically affect the future of the health insurance industry, with either the continuation of the health reform law or a likely disruption to some or all of its provisions, according to a side-by-side analysis of the healthcare platforms of President Barack Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney.

"It wasn't hard to find major distinctions," said Shana Alex Lavarreda, co-author of the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research policy paper. "All this information was out there, but it wasn't together in one place."

If Obama is re-elected, the reform law will move forward as planned, with insurers seeing an influx of individual consumers buying plans through health insurance exchanges and an expansion of Medicaid, reported California Healthline.

But a Romney win could mean private insurers begin to provide more Medicare plans but don't sell policies through exchanges, which the candidate has promised to eliminate, The New York Times reported. Instead, he wants to establish "public-private partnerships, exchanges and subsidies," but hasn't fully fleshed out the details of that proposal.

Romney also would drop the medical-loss ratio provision and eliminate the requirements that insurers provide coverage for individuals with pre-existing conditions and free preventive healthcare. And he's pledged to repeal the individual mandate, Healthline noted.

Meanwhile, Romney wants to effectively shrink Medicaid by providing a fixed amount of money to states to cover Medicaid members and granting states with more authority to determine their own eligibility and benefits standards, according to the Times.

To learn more:
- here's the UCLA policy paper
- read the California Healthline article
- see the New York Times article

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