Measure to Review State Mandated Health Benefits Unanimously Supported

-- Evaluation of health insurance mandated benefits may prove to reduce costs for consumers---- Bill supported by the Virginia Association of Health Plans, National Federation of Independent Businesses and Virginia Hospital and Health Care Association --

Central Virginia - As health insurance reform is currently a kitchen table topic of discussion, Delegate Christopher K. Peace (R-Hanover) presented House Bill 726. This legislation calls for the Special Advisory Commission on Mandated Health Insurance Benefits to review mandated health insurance benefits to assess their social and financial impact and their medical efficacy. The bill requires the Commission to submit a schedule of evaluations to the standing committees having jurisdiction over health insurance matters.

Virginia's insurance laws require that most health insurance plans including Managed Care Health Insurance Plans (MCHIPs), provide certain benefits, known as mandated benefits, in each and every individual or group contract they offer in Virginia. A full list of Virginia mandated benefits may be found at

Additionally, they must offer and make available to citizens, as an individual policyholder, or employers, if you have group coverage, the option to purchase certain benefits known as mandated offers of coverage. Mandates apply only to Virginia-issued contracts or policies. The number of mandated benefits required by law in Virginia placing requirements on the content of private health benefit plans has increased over the years.

Mandate benefits in Virginia range from statutes that require health plans to cover services by particular types of providers (e.g., chiropractors, optometrists) or requirements to cover specific diagnostic or treatment services (e.g., mammography, inpatient hospital care following delivery). While individual mandates are often very popular since they are intended to provide specific populations with greater access to particular services, there is a cumulative price tag associated with ensuring such access.

Speaking to the bill, Delegate Christopher K. Peace maintained, "Mandating benefits can cause health insurance premiums to rise substantially. As a result, the prospect of reducing the number of mandated benefits by investigating the medical effectiveness and examining the cost-impact of mandates may prove to lower premiums for individuals and businesses."

By the late 1960s, state legislatures had passed only a handful of mandated benefits; today, the Council for Affordable Health Insurance (CAHI) has identified 2,133 mandated benefits and providers and found that a state with 30-40 mandates can boost total policy costs between 20% and 45%.

“Mandates increase the cost of healthcare, making it less affordable; Virginia ranks 3rd in the nation in the number of mandated benefits. Small business owners want to and do offer healthcare plans that cover a wide variety of benefits. Providing these types of benefits is important to the productivity of our members and their employees,” states Julia Hammond, State Director for the National Federation of Independent Business.

Delegate Christopher K. Peace was elected to his third term representing the 97th District of the Virginia House of Delegates. The District includes parts of Hanover, Caroline, King William, King and Queen, Henrico, Spotsylvania Counties and all of New Kent County.