House Committee Talks Healthcare Costs, Patient Choice With House Bill 1067
Lawmakers are considering a bill that changes the types of health plans allowed in South Dakota. It modifies an initiated measure passed in 2014.
In the last election, voters in South Dakota approved Initiated Measure 17, which says that health insurance companies cannot exclude physicians and others from being on that insurer’s panel of providers. Prior to this change, insurance companies could have closed plans, allowing only certain doctors to be a part of the provider list. Advocates of that option say it allows insurance companies to make deals with providers, leading to lower costs for consumers.
House Bill 1067 says health insurance companies can offer both open and closed plans.
Representative Mark Willadsen says it gives South Dakotans more options.
“If they want to choose their doctor, they can do that,” Willadsen says. “If they want to pay lower premiums, they can choose that option. They have the choice.”
But opponents say South Dakotans already made a choice when they passed Initiated Measure 17, and this bill goes against that decision. Lee Goetz is a physical therapist in Aberdeen. He says House Bill 1067 hurts private practices that rely on a patient’s ability to choose his or her provider.
“The large health system owns the insurance company, the hospital, and they employ the physicians and physical therapists among many other employees,” Goetz says. “This bill will allow them to price their insurance products in such a way that it will be cost prohibitive for patients to come to choose their own doctor and physical therapist.”
Members of the House Commerce and Energy Committee will hear more testimony on the measure next week.