Bill would give Utahns ‘right to shop’ for health insurance

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Utahns could get a discount or rebate on health insurance premiums or out-of-pocket medical expenses for selecting lower-cost treatment under a bill supported by a House committee.

Rep. Norm Thurston’s HB19 found unanimous support Tuesday from the Senate Business and Labor Committee.

“HB19 is based on a concept called ‘right to shop,'” said Thurston, R-Provo.

The bill requires the Public Employees’ Benefit and Insurance Program to implement a savings reward program, which Thurston said has been tried in other states, including New Hampshire. If an employee insured on the plan goes and finds a cheaper option for treatment, they are rewarded, he explained.

It is available to other insurers by choice, but is not mandatory, Thurston said.

An example, he said, would be a patient who needs an MRI.

“What most of us don’t know is that the price of an MRI can vary dramatically, depending on where you go get it,” Thurston said. “Well, if you are in a certain kind of health plan, you don’t care where you go get it; you just go get it.

“What this would do is say, ‘If you choose the lower-cost option to get your MRI, your health plan will reward you by giving you either a discount on your premium, a rebate, a reduction of out-of-pocket cost, or another financial reward or incentive.”

The bill now goes to the full Senate for consideration.

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