During their annual visit to Washington, Health Agents for America looked to lawmakers to help their clients save money on health care while being able to choose the right products for their needs.
Prescription drug prices, surprise billing and robocallers selling health insurance to consumers were the main topics of discussion, HAFA President/CEO Ronnell Nolan told InsuranceNewsNet.
“We talked about pharmacy transparency – what we can do as agents to educate people on programs such as Good Rx and help them find the cheapest places to get their prescription drugs,” she said.
HAFA members also discussed possible legislation to lower prescription costs, whether putting a cap on generic drug prices or creating manufacturing sites to produce generic drugs and introduce some competition into the marketplace. Last week, a group of 18 Blue Cross Blue Shield health insurers announced it is helping to create a nonprofit drug company to make certain generic drugs itself.
Also up for discussion was the possibility of allowing certain prescription drugs, such as insulin, to be imported from other countries. “Some of the people we talked to were for it, but only from a list of vetted countries,” Nolan said. “Open the borders, increase competition and bring the costs down.”
Surprise billing was another part of the HAFA discussion with lawmakers. Nolan said her association’s members were told the House of Representatives could have a package of bills addressing this issue ready to introduce by May or June.
Robocallers are pitching consumers to buy health insurance, but much of what they are selling is not health insurance as specified by the Affordable Care Act. Nolan she and HAFA members suggested legislation mandating some kind of transparency in these sales pitches so that consumers know exactly what they are buying.
“All these robocalls are being made, selling insurance on the phone, and people don’t know what they’re buying – whether it’s insurance, short-term medical or Christian sharing ministry plans,” Nolan said. “So we suggested some type of transparency, whether the person buying had to sign something stating I know it’s short-term medical or I know it’s Christian ministry or I know it’s an ACA plan and here’s my deductible. We’re trying to protect not only seniors who are being hit with this, but also there are a lot of people buying something over the phone because they think it’s cheap, and then when they get a claim it isn’t paid.”
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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