States Get Power to Design Health Insurance Packages
In a decision that could result in less-generous insurance benefits for mental health care than the original promise of health reform, the Obama administration has decided that states will get to determine what will be covered in the package of minimum benefits that millions of Americans will get through private insurers. As announced by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, states could choose among several packages of benefits that will be offered to their residents. These could range from the comprehensive benefits offered to federal employees to those included in the more limited packages offered by small-business insurance plans or even through HMOs. These benefit packages would apply to those gaining private insurance through provisions of the health reform law, those already insured through plans offered by small businesses, and those purchasing individual plans. If a state declines to choose a minimum package, the default is the coverage offered in the state's most popular small-business plan.
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