CIGNA CEO Talks Health Insurance Plan Costs

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Health insurance companies are significant stakeholders in healthcare reform. CIGNA is one of the industry’s giants. With Democratic-led healthcare reform looking ever closer to reality, they have picked a new CEO to guide them through the changes. David M. Cordani is understandably concerned on the impact greater regulation will have on his business. However, he has several effective prescriptions that, if added to current legislation, could improve health while decreasing health insurance plan costs.

Like many health insurance plan providers, Cordani believes that neither the Senate nor the House of Representatives’ version of the bill does enough to target the causes of soaring medical expenses. Admittedly, administrative costs and profit margins do not help the situation. As the new chief executive, he will be earning a total salary up to $9 million each year. Taxing health insurance companies and imposing limits on them, as the combined bill will do, could inspire companies to cut back on salaries to trim the fat.

Cordani does not think that doing so will be very effective in increasing the quality standard of care while reducing costs. Instead, he would like to see greater focus on preventative care that will improve health. Specifically, about one-third of Americans are overweight or obese. The obesity epidemic facing our nation raises the cost of an average health insurance plan, because it must pay out claims for medical care related to it. Coronary and musculo-skeletal diseases, as well as diabetes and some cancers, are chronic conditions that can be caused or exacerbated by being obese. The cost may be unsustainable, according to Cordani, if insurers are limited in what they can charge and unable to deny coverage.

Other developed nations, most of which have a public health insurance plan for all, have lower rates of obesity and therefore more ability to provide medicine without risking bankruptcy or further budget deficits; although foreign governments have their own rampant cost drivers, such as the United Kingdom and its cost burden of high death and disease rates associated with alcohol abuse.

Being on the board of America’s Health Insurance Plans means that Cordani is continuing his lobbying efforts against healthcare reform as it currently stands. There is probably a degree of self-interest involved in his relief that the public option was dropped by the Senate and will most likely stay out of the final bill that makes it to President Obama’s desk. He is not against healthcare reform entirely, although his opinions are more in tune with centrist Democrats and independents; Cordani has praised Joe Lieberman at length. In addition, he acknowledged the efforts of Mark Warner and other Democrats to minimize costs.

Many liberal Democrats have criticized Warner and other senators for watering down the bill and lessening its reach. Cordani would disagree, since he believes that the expense of expanding health insurance access to millions of uninsured Americans will be passed on in some way. Even if it does not appear directly in the federal budget, the cost increase may appear in the premiums of those with a private health insurance plan.

Yamileth Medina PhotoAbout Author
Yamileth Medina is an up and coming expert on Health Insurance and Healthcare Reform. She aims to help people realize that they can find a quality health insurance plan right now. Yamileth lives in Miami, FL.

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