In addition, deductibles in the plan would raise the maximum additional out-of-pocket costs by $1,500 for an individual and $2,500 for a family.
The coalition, the Health Policy Agenda, set out to advise employers, employees and other individuals of the health care benefits that it considered minimal and what those benefits would cost. The basic package covers preventive medicine, care for acute illness and care for lasting and recurring illness.
The group did not say how such an insurance package should be financed or whether the government should take on part of the cost of paying premiums or administering it, a position that is not surprising given the range of health care providers, insurance companies and representatives of business, labor and consumer groups in the coalition. The group said it wanted to make a contribution to the debate on national health care that is taking place in Washington and in the national election campaign.
``We're not saying that this should be public or private, mandated or voluntary,'' said Diane B. McCarthy, chairman of the committee that produced the report. ``We're saying that what you need as a buyer of health insurance is some kind of a benchmark, an evaluation tool, to look at and say, `This is what this group considers basic.' ''
McCarthy is a former Arizona state representative who also served on the AMA commission on the cost of medical care.
``The groups involved usually fight each other and have never before agreed on the basics,'' said Gene Kimmelman, legislative director of the Consumer Federation of America.
He said that, in addition to the 37 million Americans without health insurance, 30 million to 40 million Americans are paying for insurance that is inadequate.
Under the terms of the package, patients would pay out-of-pocket costs of $200 for hospital expenses, $100 for other services and 20 percent of the remaining expenses up to a ceiling of $1,500. Families would pay out-of-pocket costs of $200 for hospital expenses, $250 for other services and 20 percent of remaining expenses up to a ceiling of $2,500.
A spokesman for the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association said that administrative costs averaged about 10 cents on the premium dollar. She said the projected cost of the basic benefit package proposed by the coalition was about what the equivalent package would cost a Blue Cross and Blue Shield subscriber. …