ANNAPOLIS – The House Economic Matters Committee gave unanimous approval Thursday to two bills to impose regulations on health insurance companies.
One measure would force health insurers to disclose summarized information about their plans. The other would prevent insurers from using results from genetic tests in making policy decisions.
The Senate passed both last month, in separate unanimous votes.
The policy disclosure bill, sponsored by Sen. Tom Bromwell, D-Baltimore County, and Sen. Arthur Dorman, D-Prince George’s, would require health insurers to disclose such information as methods of reimbursement, the proportion of premiums spent in various areas, and how coverage decisions are reached.
Proponents have argued that much information about health plans is either impossible or too difficult to obtain. Opponents, meanwhile, said the extent of information the bill required would unfairly burden insurers and confuse consumers.
As amended by the House committee, the bill would require the information to be on insurer report cards being drawn up by a state commission. Those report cards would be made available to doctors, consumers and employers.
The other bill approved Thursday applies a different sort of restriction on health insurers.
That measure, championed by Sen. Jennie Forehand, D- Montgomery, would prevent health insurers from using genetic test results to deny health coverage or alter policies.
It would also prevent insurers from mandating that consumers take genetic tests and from forcing doctors to release test results.
Opponents argued that the science of genetic testing was too new for the Legislature to embark on what they termed sweeping regulation.
The bill’s proponents, however, said that fear of raised premiums could prevent patients from undergoing what could be life-saving tests. -30-