Oregon’s Insurance Division announced plans to introduce five bills in the state Legislature’s upcoming session, which convenes in January 2007. Following is a summary of legislation the Insurance Division plans to sponsor.
Health insurance cost transparency:
The bill would require health insurers to be more transparent about costs. Consumers, who are increasingly paying a bigger share of health care costs through deductibles and other cost-sharing methods, need to know in advance what their actual out-of-pocket costs will be so they can make more informed choices. Many experts in health care and health insurance have identified transparency as a major strategy to help address the problem of rising health care costs.
The bill also would require insurers to use a standard method to determine the “usual, customary and reasonable” costs for services insurers pay when there is no pre-negotiated price with a provider.
Discount medical plans:
The bill would require sellers of discount medical plans to register with the Department of Consumer and Business Services (DCBS). Companies would have to provide a free-look period, plus customer assistance. The bill would also allow DCBS by rule to establish advertising restrictions and disclosure requirements.
Long-term care insurance:
The division proposes to amend Oregon’s long-term care statutes to respond to changes in federal law, the marketplace, and consumer expectations. This will enable consumers to benefit from recent federal legislation that allows LTC policyholders, once their benefits are used up, to access Medicaid services without having to exhaust their family assets.
To obtain these benefits, states must amend their laws to include specific consumer protections and policy provisions, as well as training and continuing education requirements for insurance producers who sell long-term care insurance.
Insurance product approvals by rule:
The bill would allow Oregon, by administrative rule, to accept certain life, annuity, and disability insurance policy forms that already have been approved by other states under similar or stronger consumer protection standards. Increased collaboration with other insurance regulators will produce a more efficient, effective review process by allowing states to pool resources and eliminate duplication.
Medical malpractice program for rural physicians:
The 2003 Oregon Legislature approved a medical professional liability reinsurance program totaling $40 million for rural physicians for 2004-2007. The bill would extend the program, allowing use of unspent funds until it is phased out not later than Dec. 31, 2013. The bill also would tighten eligibility criteria for rural physicians.
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