Arizona PIRG Education Fund
Consumers across the state know that the health insurance marketplace is broken. Insurers don’t compete for their business, instead offering take-it or-leave-it deals. Important information about coverage is buried in the fine print, making it hard to know what’s really covered. Instead of working to lower costs and improve quality, too many insurers focus on covering healthy enrollees and dumping the sick. And costs are continuing their unsustainable rise. Nationally, the great majority of individual-market policyholders—77% —saw a premium increase from early 2009 to early 2010, with an average rate hike of 20%. Small businesses, too, pay 18% more for insurance than their larger competitors and have seen repeated double digit premium increases.
The creation of a new health insurance exchange offers our state the chance to build a better marketplace for health care. The exchange can help individuals and small businesses by increasing competition and improving choices in the state’s insurance market. By providing better options and better information, and negotiating on behalf of its enrollees, the exchange can level the playing field for consumers.
Success is not assured, however, as states confronting the task of setting up their exchange must grapple with important policy questions. This report is a blueprint for creating a strong, pro-consumer exchange that lives up to its promise of a better marketplace.