State Rep. Boyd's diabetes insurance bill passes Ohio House

The Ohio House of Representatives today approved a bill sponsored by State Representative Barbara Boyd (D-Cleveland Heights) to expand insurance coverage for patients with diabetes, helping people get the supplies and education they need to self-manage their diabetes. The vote was 58-38. 

 “An estimated 380,000 Ohioans have diabetes, and many of them are under-insured. This places a massive economic burden on people who are already struggling to make ends meet,” said Rep. Boyd. “Residents of this state deserve to have insurance coverage that provides benefits for diabetes equipment, supplies and medication. They should not have to choose between paying for food and treatment.” 

Currently, many health insurance companies in the state explicitly exclude coverage for Diabetes. House Bill 81 would require coverage in certain situations for equipment, supplies, and medication for the diagnosis, treatment, and management of diabetes and for diabetes self-management education. Currently 46 states have requirements similar to HB 81.

Diabetes costs Ohio $6-billion a year, and experts predict that number will rise. Rep. Boyd’s Ohio House Health Committee heard testimony that employers in states that have enacted similar measures have found cost savings through reduced employee absenteeism and increased work productivity. The bill should also save money as insurers pay for less costly maintenance programs rather than expensive surgeries later on.

House Bill 81 would be the only law in the country that includes an “actuarial soundness provision” that would give health care plans the option to exempt from coverage if it is shown that their rates have increased by 1% due to the required coverage. Ohio would be the first state in the union to include this 1% opt-out provision as an added safeguard to business and industry. 

“This bill is written to provide the business and insurance communities with the most flexibility of any diabetes coverage bill in the country that is being proposed or that is already in law,” said Rep. Boyd. “It is good for business, and puts the needs of the patients first.” House Bill 81 now goes to the Ohio Senate for consideration.

Cheav Votey works in the office of State Representative Barbara Boyd.

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Volume 2, Issue 12, Posted 1:35 PM, 12.08.2009