NAMIC: Colo. Bill Would Mandate Unnecessary, Duplicative Coverage

A bill mandating that emergency medical care coverage be included in all automobile insurance policies was approved Nov. 17 for possible introduction during Colorado’s 2006 legislative session.

The Legislative Council Committee approved a draft of a mandatory
emergency medical care and trauma care coverage bill titled, Concerning a Requirement that Emergency Medical Care Coverage be Included in Automobile Insurance Policies.

“This bill would require consumers to purchase a new auto insurance
coverage for emergency medical care that is already provided by the
consumer’s health insurance provider,” said National Association of
Mutual Insurance Companies (NAMIC) West Region State Affairs Manager Christian Rataj. “Colorado insurance consumers currently benefit financially from the recent switch from a no-fault system to a tort based-fault system, and the proposed mandated coverage will take away these economic benefits by forcing consumers to purchase a new auto insurance coverage that is unnecessary and duplicative.”

Eighty-four percent of Coloradoans have either employer-sponsored health insurance or government health insurance, according to Families USA – The Voice for Health Care Consumers. Eight out of 10 patients have access to health insurance that will pay for their trauma care or emergency medical care services.

As a result of the switch from a mandatory no-fault system to a tort
system, consumers have saved on average, 21-31 percent in insurance premium rates, depending upon their personal insurance coverage needs, according to Colorado Insurance Commissioner David Rivera.

“Why should the 84 percent of the consumers who have health insurance coverage give up this premium savings and also be required to pay more in auto insurance rates to purchase a new auto insurance coverage that merely provides duplicate medical benefits coverage?” asked Rataj.

Coloradoans who don’t have their own health insurance coverage may
still be able to get their emergency medical care bills paid for by a
third party payee. Colorado’s tort system imposes personal liability on the at-fault driver for the medical bills of the injured third party, which typically means that the at-fault driver’s auto insurance carrier will ultimately pay for the medical bills of the non-at-fault injured party.

“If one conservatively assumes that half of the 16 percent of the
Colorado population that does not have health insurance coverage for
their automobile accident injuries are at-fault for the accident, then
only eight percent of the population that seeks emergency medical care or trauma care coverage does not have a third party entity to pay for their medical services,” said Rataj.