Survey: Patients' Rights Bills Threaten Health Plans

If so-called "patients' rights" legislation expanding individuals' ability to sue their group health plans becomes law, many companies will drop their employer-sponsored health insurance for employees, indicates a membership survey by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Released Oct. 6 as the House began debate on a variety of patients' rights bills, the survey shows that 25% of the respondents would terminate their health-insurance plans entirely if they're exposed to increased liability. A majority -- 40%-- would terminate coverage, but contribute toward an employee's purchase of an individual health plan. Another 27% are undecided. Only 7% say they would continue to offer their plans despite the risk of increased litigation or litigation-related costs. The survey also shows that if their health-care insurance costs rise up to 15% over one year, 27% of the companies would consider ending their plans or require workers to pay more than half the cost. If the increase rose to 16% to 20%, an additional 24% of the firms would take similar action. The survey was conducted in September among 729 U.S. Chamber members.

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