Advocates back regulators’ call for equal standards among plans

Consumer advocates on Wednesday echoed state insurance regulators call for a level playing field between existing healthcare plans and new multistate policies created by healthcare reform.

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners recently told the federal government that multistate plans should still have to comply with state regulations and meet all the requirements of the healthcare law. NAICs consumer advocates echoed that position Wednesday.

Multistate plans will be available in state-based insurance exchanges, and theyll be automatically deemed to meet the standards for sale through an exchange. If theyre not actually held to each states standards, however, consumers might not be able to make a fair comparison among policies.

The NAIC consumer advocates also noted a provision of the healthcare law that requires a level playing field between the national plans and other policies. If the government lets multistate policies off the hook for certain requirements, they said, the same exemption might have to cover all insurers.

Exempting Multi-State plans from any state requirement [covered by the healthcare law] would not only reduce protections for consumers in Multi-State plans, but would eliminate those protections for consumers in all plans, the consumer advocates wrote in a letter to the Office of Personnel Management. We believe this is not only contrary to Congress’s intent, but would also be a dramatic departure from the traditional federal-state framework for regulating insurance, in which federal law sets a floor of consumer protections, but states can continue to provide more robust protections.

The Office of Personnel Management is responsible for selecting multistate plans.