The NC House today approved HB 535, a bill that would add lymphedema to North Carolina's already extensive list of health insurance coverage mandates. Basically, health insurance providers will be forced to include coverage for lymphedema in all of the insurance plans they offer, and consumers will have to pay extra for the coverage whether they want it or not.
But here's the kicker, the added burden of this mandate will only apply to those who can least afford it. Because lymphedema is already covered under the State Health Plan, state employees won't be affected. And because large, multi-state corporations that self-insure are exempt from state mandates under ERISA, big businesses won't be affected either.
Who does that leave? Small businesses who are already drowning in escalating health care costs and folks buying insurance on the individual market. Of course, insurance premiums for small businesses have already risen at twice the rate of larger companies over the last several years causing many of them to cut benefits, wages or workers. Does now seem like a good time to impose even greater costs on small businesses?
Furthermore, North Carolinians in the individual market already pay one of the highest rates in the nation, as high as 60 percent above other states. Remember, under current law you are denied access to policies from other states. Yet NC lawmakers are only interested in policy that will increase your health insurance rates, while they refuse to even have a debate on legislation that would enable North Carolinians to access more affordable coverage.