Michigan Insurance Premium Limit Bill Expecting Governor's Signature

July 1, 2003 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm is expected to approve legislation placing limits on how high insurers can raise premiums when employees at small firms become sick.

>Following passage by the Michigan Legislature on Thursday, the Small Employer Health Market Reform Act is anticipated to gain the governor’s approval soon, prohibiting companies from “cherry picking” only the healthiest small business workers to insure and dumping those they do not want to cover.     “Our members cite excessive health care costs are their number one burden,” said Detroit Regional Chamber CEO Richard Blouse in a Detroit News report.   “This legislation … will prove critical to the success of our more than 20,000 members.”

>The biggest winner though may be Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, which under state law is required to cover workers regardless of age or health status.    Blue Cross said other insurers had been dumping high-risk workers onto its rolls to reduce their own risk, while putting the nonprofit Blue Cross system, which already insures nearly half the state’s population, under greater financial burden.   

However, opponents of the bill – albeit few in number – argued that the legislation would simply provide Blue Cross with an unneeded advantage in the marketplace, on top of its tax exempt status as a non-profit corporation.    Those arguments did not have much traction, though, as the Michigan Senate voted 34 to 3 on the measure while the House approved it with a 81 to 27 vote, moving the legislation to the governor for her signature.