Survey: Virginians favor stronger insurance laws to protect consumers

More than 80% of Virginians support changing the Ethics and Fairness in Carrier Business Practices Act law so health insurance providers could not unilaterally change contracts with doctors and hospitals, according to a survey by Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy.

 

Get the latest state-specific policy intelligence for the health care sector delivered to your inbox.

 

House Bill 2021, which was introduced in the House on Jan. 12, would modify the act. The changes would restrict contract revisions and allow individuals and families to better predict coverage. The bill, sponsored by Del. Wendy Gooditis, would prohibit a carrier from unilaterally amending any material provision of a provider contract or adding new material provisions to the contract within 12 months of the contract’s signing or last amendment.

“These poll numbers clearly show that Virginians expect a greater degree of accountability from health insurance companies as well as more support for families and business from state regulators at the Bureau of Insurance who are charged with monitoring the conduct of insurers operating in the commonwealth,” said Sean T. Connaughton, Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association president and CEO .

The survey also suggests that 58% of Virginians are unaware of the State Corporation Commission’s Bureau of Insurance, which regulates insurance companies. Another 59% believe the bureau doesn’t provide consumers with enough information about how to contest health insurance coverage decisions and 92% want easy-to-access information that provides more transparency about insurance industry profits, medical expenditures, administrative costs and other metrics.

Other states, including California, make this type of information available to the public.

A recently released commonwealth-wide analysis of health care sector spending shows that insurance costs in the commonwealth continue to rise. The analysis, conducted by Altarum Institute, indicates though health care expenditures in Virginia are below the national average, private personal insurance health care spending is up 42.7% since 2008. Also, single annual premiums have increased 61.3% and family premiums have increased by 66.4%.

The Altarum study also found that overall per-capita health care spending in Virginia is more than 7% lower than the national average, driven by a lower per-capita spending on hospitals and physicians.