Special Committee on Medical Insurance Gives Final Report
Colorado Springs, CO (June 12, 1997)--Teaching Elder Dominic Aquila led what may go down as the shortest committee report on the floor of any General Assembly. In approximately two minutes or less, the Assembly adopted the two recommendations of the Ad Hoc Committe on Options for Medical Insurance, including that the committee be dissolved.
The ad hoc committee had been appointed in 1994 "to pursue the feasibility of changing to an underwritten program of medical insurance for our members. The study should include the option of facilitating our congregations in obtaining coverage either through an endorsed program or through local options, including state sponsored pools." An underwritten plan is one in which applicants must provide medical data on which an insurer would decide either to accept with standard or increased rates, or reject applicants.
This year's report noted that, pursuant to its recommendation adopted by the 1996 Assembly, the denomination's Insurance, Annuities, and Relief (IAR) agency had implemented an Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) pilot program in Atlanta. However, because of "a number of service issues with respect to the implementation of this pilot program which were difficult to resolve" and "continued minor service issues due to lack of timely responses from [Blue Cross/Blue Shield] of Georgia," "specifications have been prepared to solicit competitive alternatives."
It was reported that the present insurance carrier, Pacific Mutual, has been developing Point of Service (POS) plans, which are similar to HMOs. By January 1, 1998, IAR hopes to offer a POS plan to participants in up to 70 large metropolitan areas, with the expectation of a significant reduction in rates.
The committee stated that "IAR also investigated the availability and costs of a group high deductible insurance plan that could stand on its own merits or be adapted for use with Medical Savings Accounts (MSA). It was determined that the cost for this type of policy would not have reduced premium costs significantly." Furthermore, a number of provisions in the Congressional legislation regarding MSAs "would make it unfavorable for the PCA to implement such a program as a part of its group plan. The Committee believes the MSA concept has merit and may be pursued by individuals where available."
The committee was not able to see significant reduction in premium costs; however, "the exploration of options has widened." In the committee's view, "IAR is, in fact, continually investigating options in order to keep the PCA's medical insurance affordable and is seeking to secure the best coverage for the least cost." Accordingly, the other recommendation (beside the one that the committee be dissolved) was that "IAR continue to pursue options for medical insurance and report regularly to the General Assembly on its progress."