KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

UnitedHealthCare Pushing Congress To Open Up Federal Workers’ Health Plan

At a congressional hearing yesterday, UnitedHealthCare executives said that Blue Cross Blue Shield dominates the FEHB market too much.

The Washington Post: Insurance Providers Debate Whether Federal Workers Should Have More Choices
Two leading health-insurance providers squared off during congressional testimony Thursday, debating whether the government should allow more plans to participate in the $47 billion health-benefits program for federal employees. At a hearing before the House subcommittee that oversees the federal workforce, United Healthcare urged lawmakers to allow regional and state preferred-provider organizations (PPOs) to join the health-benefit program, which covers about 8 million workers (Hicks, 4/11).

Kaiser Health News: Insurers Battle Over Federal Employees’ Health Coverage
Tom Choate, chief growth officer for UnitedHealthcare, said the Blues’ "monopoly" of the program is stifling competition and innovation of insurance products. "Much has changed since 1959. We’ve moved from typewriters to laptops; from rotary dial phones to smart phones; from 45s to iTunes,” Choate said at the hearing. “It’s time to update that 1959 law, so federal employees and the federal government can also benefit from innovation and competition in the health care marketplace" (Galewitz, updated 4/11). 

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