Friday, October 9, 2009

Insurance news: WA 16th in health care, new law covers college students, and "windfall profits" tax on insurers?

The Commonwealth Fund has issued a new study rating health care by state. (Washington comes in 16th.)

The AP (via the Seattle Times) reports on a surprising change from the Congressional Budget Office:
Limits on medical malpractice lawsuits would lead doctors to order up fewer unneeded tests and save taxpayers billions more than previously thought, budget umpires for Congress said Friday in a reversal that puts the issue back in the middle of the health care debate. The latest analysis from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that government health care programs could save $41 billion over ten years if nationwide limits on jury awards for pain and suffering and other similar curbs were enacted. Those savings are nearly ten times greater than CBO estimated just last year.
The AP also reports on a new federal law that will allow college students to take up to a year off from school for medical reasons and to still remain on their family's health insurance plan.

House Democrats, according to this NYT story, are also considering a "windfall profits tax" on insurers:
Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday that House Democrats were considering a "windfall profits tax" on insurance companies to help pay for legislation that would provide coverage to most of the uninsured. The idea, she said, is to capture some of the profits that insurance companies might reap if the government required nearly everyone to have insurance and subsidized premiums for millions of low- and middle-income people.
In Miami, meanwhile, a local insurance agent "has been arrested for the second time in two months for submitting thousands of fraudulent premium finance contracts for fictitious policyholders."