Health Care/Insurance Committee Update

June 15, 2011

Countdown to Health Insurance Exchange?

Negotiations continue between the Legislature and Governor on legislation to put in place the framework for a health insurance exchange in New York State and with the legislative calendar days numbered, it remains to be seen whether negotiations will lead to an agreed upon bill.

The Senate has introduced its bill; the Governor released earlier this week his Program Bill #12.  A side-by-side of key provisions of each bill is included here.  This is not intended to cover every provision of each bill, but to provide a context for the primary aspects of the bills and to demonstrate where some policy differences appear.

The Business Council is on the record as supporting a “do no harm” approach given the complexity of this issue, and the need for significantly more data than is currently, publicly available to evaluate impact, and perhaps unintended consequences.  We remain committed to working with all parties to design something that works toward the Congressional vision of an exchange:  a marketplace that better organizes the information to compare health plans, increased product availability and choice, and a means through which to increase coverage for individuals and small businesses.

Significant areas of concern to the Business Council include:

If you have an opinion, now’s the time to let your legislator know!

What’s the Conversation We’re Not Having?  (Hint: Controlling Health Care Costs)

Recent data included in a Kaiser Family Foundation presentation provides yet another way of looking at how poorly we do at controlling health care costs in the US.  It also provides interesting food for thought when you see how they display the comparison.

It’s widely known that the United States spends much more than any other country on health care. But the Kaiser Family Foundation broke that spending down into two parts: the government’s share and the private sector’s share (both measured as a percentage of total gross domestic product), then compared the results to figures from 12 other countries that are members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. In the US, government spends more on health care than the governments of Japan, Australia, Norway, the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, Canada or Switzerland.

Canada has a single-payer health-care system, with the government the only insurer of any note. The United Kingdom has a socialized system, in which the government is not only the sole insurer of note but also employs most of the doctors and nurses and runs most of the hospitals. And yet, measured as a share of the economy, the US government health-care system is still the largest of those measured.

Altogether, the US is spending about 16 percent of the GDP on health care. No other country even tops 12 percent.