Health insurers float plans for universal coverage

January 9, 2009

Two of the nation's largest commercial health insurance organizations unveiled pledges to provide coverage for all Americans despite their pre-existing conditions - as long as all health plans comply with the mandate.

Two of the nation's largest commercial health insurance organizations unveiled pledges to provide coverage for all Americans despite their pre-existing conditions-as long as all health plans comply with the mandate.

America's Health Insurance Plans, an industry group representing insurers who cover more than 200 million Americans, in November proposed an individual coverage requirement that includes a coverage verification system, automatic enrollment process, and enforcement of the requirement that all individuals purchase and maintain coverage. That same week, the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association followed with its own pledge of universal coverage.

Neither organization offered a specific timetable for the proposals.

Critics, however, were skeptical. "They are recommending a continuation of the same inefficient, fragmented structure that we now have, except that it is expanded to include everyone," says Don McCanne, MD, senior health policy fellow for Physicians for a National Health Program, which advocates a single-payer system.

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