Rhode Island Health Insurance Crisis- Update 

Health Insurance in RI  Today

Thanks to stubborn elected and appointed officials, our state  STILL only has two carriers offering comprehensive health insurance to small businesses in Rhode Island and only one of those has plans for individuals.

 Rhode Islanders  pay more than double what is available in "healthier", friendlier states that have access to more carriers and many more plans. We have fewer plans to choose from, fewer companies that offer them and far less affordable rates than we could have if our state simply follow
in the footsteps of what most states with thriving health insurance markets have done by implementing tried and true health insurance market regulations.

Since the Spring of 2005, Rhode Island has had an opportunity to, at least DOUBLE the number of health insurers doing business in our state.

Read the testimony provided to the Senate Health and Human Services Committee from the parent company, Assurant Health, formerly Fortis, of both John Alden Life Insurance Company and Time Insurance Company stating that these two companies WOULD RETURN to Rhode Island IF they simply adopted standardized reforms used by states in the vast majority of the rest of the country. Furthermore, these reforms have already been created for our state and have been Sponsored by Senator Marc Cote (D) from Woonsocket.

These reforms include fixing our managed care rules and regulations so that they recognize the difference between managed care companies and non managed care companies; making or filing laws that insurers must follow more objective and establishing a high risk pool in the individual market to provide a guaranteed issue mechanism for individuals.

Like I said before, these reforms have been ready to be voted on and passed into law for two years! What are we waiting for? What are our legislators waiting for?? There is no good reason for Rhode Islanders to suffer with higher than necessary health insurance costs from fewer carriers than we could have if we just fixed our health insurance market.

Sadly legislators and government officials have chosen to continue to weaken the market without realizing they are doing so. Governor Carcieri's office has made an attempt during the summer of 2007 to save small businesses 20% on health insurance costs by introducing a plan designed by the health insurance commissioner, Chris Koller, that health insurers be required to offer. This plan turns out to be more expensive than half of the plans both Blue Cross and United Healthcare already offer that provide BETTER PROTECTION than the Governor's plan for LESS COST -- SO MUCH FOR HELPING RHODE ISLAND SMALL BUSINESSES SAVE MONEY! A better way to help small businesses save money is to direct them to insurance agents who can competently explain which plans offered by Blue Cross and United Healthcare offer the best protection for the best price. A good agent should be able to help a business owner save up to 45% of their current insurance costs simply by doing this. Most agents unfortunately do not do this and simply take orders from clients for plans they think they want RATHER THAN EXPLAINING which plans offer the best value.

Most recently in the small group market carriers have eliminated the six month pre-existing waiting period for applicants without proof of prior coverage which can only eventually hurt the market further.

Just when you think things can't get any worse in Rhode Island's health insurance marketplace, it does.