Thursday, December 21, 2006

Thursday News Briefs…

As we’ve written about more than once, so-called “health discount programs” can create more problems than they solve. And because they are NOT insurance products, the Department of Insurance (well, the Ohio DOI) has been powerless to stop them.
Until now, that is:
Ohio has joined a growing number of states which have empowered Insurance Departments to impose – and enforce – new rules on these plans. The Ohio House has passed, unanimously, their version of Senate Bill 5, which sets requirements for discount medical plans, including minimum marketing standards.
Unfortunately, SB 5 also includes enabling language for so-called “Healthcare Purchasing Alliances,” which have their own problems. We’ll have more on this soon.
While we’re on the subject of “ways to make insurance more expensive:” the Ohio House has also passed a mental health parity bill, which would require insurance companies to cover mental illnesses as they cover physical ones. Another word for this is “premium increasing mandate;” lame duck Governor Taft hasn’t announced yet whether or not he’ll sign it into law.
And finally, as long as we’re here in the Buckeye State (home of Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith), there’s some interesting life insurance news, as well: Western-Southern Life has introduced an unemployment rider, available on many of its term plans.
The rider, which adds about 3% to the premium, is a waiver of premium benefit which is expected to help those who’ve lost their jobs keep their insurance.
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