I haven't posted in a while, it's been a busy week. Luckily, I've been storing up posts I wanted to make.
First, Sen. Olympia Snow, (R-Maine) is considering an amendment to the Association Health Plan Bill that might address some of the concerns mentioned in my previous post on the subject, namely that the bill would allow AHPs to be exempt from state regulations which provide protections to health plan members. Snow's amendment would mandate that all offered benefit packages would have all benefits offered in at least two thirds of the states. Snow says that this amendment would help attract Democrats and moderate Republicans (they still exist?) to approve a bill that has received heavy opposition from the American Cancer Society (becauses mammograms wouldn't be mandated) and AARP (because the bill allows discrimination against older and sicker workers).
The only problem now is Joe Paduda's comment at Managed Care Matters. Joe thinks that because there is such a pervasive oligarchy in health care, bargaining power is something of a mirage in healthcare today. If there is only one major insurer in your market, it doesn't matter how much clout you have, the insurer knows you're a captive audience and doesn't have to bargain down to get your business. Accordingly, the only benefit keeping prices down is the economies of scale that might result with a larger contract compared to a smaller contract. But then, the small companies would still have to be administrated separately, thus eliminating many of the economy of scale benefits as well.
So... this amendment may kill the ability for AHPs to save small businesses money in the insurance market (though I still think there would be small savings), but without it, it likely won't get passed. We'll have to see how it plays out.