Madison County State Senator Ralph Hudgens (R), who is seeking the state insurance commissioner’s office this year, has introduced a health insurance bill in the Senate.
According to a press release from Hudgens, Senate Bill 411, the “Healthy Georgians Act of 2010,” would allow health insurance companies to offer wellness incentives in the policies they write in the state. Such incentives may include but are not limited to merchandise, gift cards, debit cards, premium discounts or rebates, contributions towards a member’s health savings account as well as modifications to co-payment, deductible or coinsurance.
Hudgens noted that a similar law was enacted in 2008, but only applied to high-deductible health plans. He said his bill would apply to policies in the small group and individual markets.
“The overwhelming majority of healthcare costs are lifestyle related,” said Hudgens. “We should encourage people to take care of themselves. Allowing incentives and rewards to be offered in healthcare policies is an effective way to achieve this goal. This bill rewards personal responsibility and gives consumers more choice when purchasing health insurance.”
Hudgens said all wellness programs must be designed to promote health and prevent disease, be opened annually to all individuals and be voluntary. The bill also stipulates that “a reasonable alternative must be provided for consumers who cannot participate due to medical conditions.” Insurance companies are prohibited from restricting eligibility, increasing premiums, or denying coverage for those who elect not to participate.
The bill has been assigned to the Senate Insurance and Labor Committee, which Hudgens chairs.