HealthMarts, HIPCs, MEWAs, and Association Health Plans: A Guide for the Perplexed

Health Affairs
Vol. 20, No. 1
January/February 2001
Hall, M., Wicks, E., and J. Lawlor
pp. 142-53

This paper considers how pending proposals to authorize new forms of group purchasing arrangements for health insurance would fit and function within the existing, highly complex market and regulatory landscape and whether these proposals are likely to meet their stated objectives and avoid unintended consequences. Cost savings are more likely to result from increased risk segmentation than through true market efficiencies. Thus, these proposals could erode previous market reforms whose goal is increased risk pooling. On the other hand, these proposals contain important enhancements, clarifications, and simplification of state and federal regulatory oversight of group purchasing vehicles. Also, they address some of the problems that have hampered the performance of purchasing cooperatives. On balance, although these proposals should receive cautious and careful consideration, they are not likely to produce a significant overall reduction in premiums or increase in coverage.

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