Ensign raises questions with new preventive care rules

Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) has asked federal regulators to make sure new rules banning cost-sharing for preventive care don't inadvertently preclude employers from rewarding cost-effective care.

In a letter to the heads of the Health, Treasury and Labor departments, Ensign gives the example of a self-insured employer that currently pays $1,500 for employees to get a routine colonoscopy, which can cost anywhere from $900 to $7,200; under the new rules, Ensign asks, would the employer be prohibited from making the employee pay a portion of the procedure if the employee chooses a more expensive option?

"I am concerned that the interim final regulations could thwart the ability of companies to offer preventive care while continuing to incentivize employees," Ensign writes. "If so, this could result in increased healthcare costs and negatively impact quality of care."