Insurance exchanges: vital to reform

By MPIRG Public Health Task Force

Healthcare remains a critical issue in the United States as the number of uninsured Americans rises to 50 million and the country’s health care spending reaches $2.5 trillion. The healthcare system of the United States is in dire need of reform and improvement. With the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in March 2010, Congress began to address many of the problems present in the US healthcare system. This legislation includes several important regulatory measures, including allowing young adults to remain on their parents’ insurance until the age of 26, expansion of Medicaid and the creation of health insurance exchanges in every state. Health insurance exchanges are marketplaces where small businesses and individuals can purchase insurance coverage with the assistance of experts, called navigators. Currently, insurance companies are extremely reluctant to insure individuals or small business employees at affordable rates. This problem is addressed by grouping individuals for insurance in the exchange. As part of implementing the PPACA, Minnesota must pass legislation creating an exchange by January 2013. It is vitally important for the exchange in Minnesota to be successful to increase insurance coverage and further the movement for reform. Several features are particularly important for the exchange to be successful. These include involving government officials, maintaining public accountability, creating conflict of interest policies, preventing insurance company employees from serving on the exchange board or as navigators and establishing regulations across the whole system to ensure individuals with a variety of health levels receive coverage through the exchange. As an organization representing young adults who will soon need to acquire their own insurance coverage, MPIRG is working on the issue of health insurance reform. More specifically, we’re advocating for the creation of a strong, user-oriented insurance exchange that improves the health of all Minnesotans. This week, we’ve collected student signatures in support of such an exchange to send to Governor Mark Dayton. MPIRG’s unique statewide resources and staff have made this campaign possible. The public health taskforce of MPIRG looks forward to working with student body to improve our health care system statewide and beyond. If you’re interested in getting more involved, stop by our meetings on Tuesdays at 10 p.m. in Campus Center room 215.