Insurers Offer to Stop Charging Sick People More

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 24, 2009 8:05 PM CDT
Big insurers say they're willing to stop charging higher premiums to people with preexisting conditions.   (AP GRAPHIC)

(Newser) – The push for health care reform got a significant boost today: Big insurers say they are willing to stop charging higher premiums to people with pre-existing medical conditions, the New York Times reports. In the surprise move, industry leaders say they are willing to give up the practice if Congress makes it mandatory for all Americans to have insurance.

“It was a significant step for them to take,” said Sen. Jeff Bingaman, who presided over a hearing on the matter today. “I hope it moves us closer to something that we could label a consensus.” Two industry leaders—America's Health Insurance Plans and the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association—spelled out the shift in letters to senators. If Congress is successful in requiring universal coverage, the larger pool of people would make the change possible. The insurers remain opposed to any government-run plan.