We note that Fowler will be working closely with Karen Pollitz, a Georgetown University academic hired to direct the Division of Consumer Support in the new consumer office. Last year, Pollitz testified before the Senate Commerce Committee, where she admitted that the incentive for insurance companies to still select people based on the risk they present—the pre-ex thing—“will not go away,” even though carriers cannot turn someone down for having a health problem. She then ticked off a bunch of ways the carriers can get around the prohibition. Pollitz told senators that coverage information for insurance policies might look like labels found on canned peaches.
I know the press is not terribly interested in covering “boring” regulators, but when there are fox-guarding-chicken-coop appointments, the media should be taking a closer look—especially after the foxes take up residence. I, for one, would be very interested in how WellPoint, a company that selects good risks better than just about any other insurer, will carry on its business under the watchful eye of its former lobbyist, Liz Fowler. As for the canned peach labels, we’ll have to wait and see how much insurers want to be like grocery manufacturers and more important how much consumers want to choose insurance like canned fruit. Good stories in the making.