From The New York Times
The Obama administration will soon take on a new role as the sponsor of at least two nationwide health insurance
plans to be operated under contract with the federal government and offered to consumers in every state.
These multistate plans were included in President Obama
’s health care law
as a substitute for a pure government-run health insurance program — the public option sought by many liberal Democrats and reviled by Republicans. Supporters of the national plans say they will increase competition in state health insurance markets, many of which are dominated by a handful of companies.
The national plans will compete directly with other private insurers and may have some significant advantages, including a federal seal of approval. Premiums and benefits for the multistate insurance plans will be negotiated by the United States Office of Personnel Management
, the agency that arranges health benefits for federal employees.
The new health care law stipulates that at least one of the multistate plans must provide insurance without coverage of abortion
services. If a plan does cover abortions, it must establish separate accounts, one with money for abortion and one for all other medical services.
National insurance plans will be subject to regulation by the federal government, state insurance commissioners and state insurance exchanges. That mix could cause confusion for some consumers who have questions or complaints about their coverage.
The federal standards will pre-empt state rules in at least one respect: the national health plans will automatically be eligible to compete against other private insurers in the new exchanges, regardless of whether they have been certified as meeting the standards of those exchanges.