Saturday, September 10, 2011


NAIC Provides Forum for Ivory Tower Attack on Self-Insurance

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) has never been known as an organization where the self-insurance/alternative risk transfer industry is treated fairly, but its penchant for bias became even more visible this past week. Worse yet, this bias is now being fomented by an “ivory tower” expert.

Professor Timothy Stoltzfus Jost is the designated “consumer representative” on the NAIC’s ERISA (B) Subgroup , which is tasked with developing various policy recommendations related to how states should adapt their insurance regulations to better coordinate with PPACA implementation. The esteemed professor is not shy in sharing his opinion that smaller self-insured group health plans, facilitated by stop-loss insurance, should be made extinct.

During the Workgroup’s last conference call, Professor Jost presented a formal statement entitled The Affordable Care Act and Stop-Loss Insurance. This scholarly work was quite the hit piece on self-insurance disguised with big words, extensive footnoting and misleading legal references.

His central thesis is that smaller employers should not be allowed to self-insure because they do so primarily to escape state regulation, and going forward to sidestep new PPACA regulation. He also pushes the dubious argument that self-insured plans contribute to adverse selection (see my earlier blog post on this subject).

Virtually all of Professor Jost’s points can and will be rebutted privately and publicly as this NAIC policy development process moves forward, but first let’s take some time to consider the source.

He is currently a law professor at the Washington and Lee University of Law, with multiple other academic appointments dating back to 1979. Along the way, he has written several books and academic papers on the subject of health care with titles such as The Threats Facing our Public Health Care Programs and a Rights-Based Response; and Health Care at Risk: a Critique of the Consumer-Driven Movement.

And by the way, he is a graduate of the University of California at Santa Cruz. In case you are not familiar with this school, it makes U.C. Berkley look like a bastion of conservatism.

So what about private sector experience over his 35 year career? You guessed it, zero. How about past experience as a regulator who at least could interact with the private sector? No again. What we have here is the classic liberal elite academic who looks at the world through prisms of theory and ideology.

Professor Jost holds himself out to be a patient’s rights advocate and clearly views the NAIC as a forum to present his “ivory tower” perspective. OK fine, there’s certainly room for a diversity of qualified opinions as part of the policy development process.

The problem is that while Professor Jost may well have valid perspectives to contribute on true consumer (patient) protection issues, he’s out of his league in commenting on how health care delivery should be financed.

Moreover, if he was truly concerned about the ability of individuals to receive quality, affordable health care, Professor Jost should actually be a proponent of self-insured health plans (regardless of size) because these plans generally do a better job on both counts as compared to the fully-insured marketplace.

It appears the professor is in need of some timely continuing education.

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