New Report Provides State Policy Recommendations on How to Protect Consumers, Reduce Disparities During the COVID-19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic presents unprecedented threats to health and safety, and exacerbates existing inequities that continue to jeopardize the wellbeing of millions of Americans. As always, state health policy is critical to protecting consumers’ access to health care and addressing health disparities, particularly during the public health and economic crises brought by COVID-19.

To help state policymakers during a time of great upheaval and uncertainty, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners’ (NAIC) Consumer Representatives* put together recommendations on access to coverage and care, health equity and racial justice, and other state policy issues. Recommendations for state policymakers include:

  • Promote access to health insurance by creating marketplace enrollment opportunities, expanding Medicaid, investing in marketing and outreach, and ensuring coverage continuation through premium grace periods;
  • Ensure access to critical health services such as COVID-19 testing and treatment, telehealth and prescription drugs through efforts like prior authorization waivers and protections against surprise medical billing;
  • Reduce paperwork burdens on consumers, who may lack access to printers, internet, scanners and fax machines or face additional barriers to filling out forms, by allowing consumer attestations;
  • Proactively identify fraud, collect data, and diligently review products for sale, rather than relying on complaints from consumers to spot issues after they arise;
  • Vigorously review rate requests to identify unjustified increases and include an equity component to rate review to detect discriminatory practices; and
  • Institute provider network requirements that expand access to mental health care, including culturally competent mental health providers who are knowledgeable about factors caused by systemic racism that lead to health disparities.

You can read the full list of recommendations in the NAIC Consumer Representatives report, supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, here.

This blog was originally posted on the Georgetown University Center on Health Insurance Reforms blog.

*CHIR’s Justin Giovannelli is one of the NAIC Consumer Representatives.