Health benefits brokers would be subject to disclosure requirements as part of a sweeping health care bill introduced last week in the U.S. Senate.
The Lower Health Care Costs Act was introduced by Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash. The bill takes aim at a number of issues, including surprise medical bills, high drug prices and public health problems.
The bill also would create more transparency around pharmacy benefit managers to ensure they are passing along discounts on drugs to customers.
In addition, the bill would prevent certain anti-competitive clauses in contracts between medical providers and insurance companies that can drive prices up.
The package contains nearly three dozen specific provisions that Alexander said will reduce the cost of what Americans pay for health care. However, the bill does not address controversial issues such as Affordable Care Act repeal, Medicare for All and abortion funding.
But buried in the bill is a requirement that health benefits brokers reveal fees and other enticements they receive from the insurance industry.
This section of the bill proposes revising the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, which sets minimum standards for most private health and retirement plans. Brokers would have to disclose compensation or incentives from insurers and other vendors, in writing, at the time an employer signs up for benefits. Health insurers also would have to disclose information on broker compensation or incentives to consumers who sign up for coverage on the individual market.
Alexander said he hopes the bill will see committee action in June and a Senate vote in July.
Susan Rupe is managing editor for InsuranceNewsNet. She formerly served as communications director for an insurance agents' association and was an award-winning newspaper reporter and editor. Contact her at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @INNsusan.
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