Huntsville Hospital CEO says Alabama consumers unlikely to benefit from planned insurance changes

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- President Trump today signed an executive order Tursday addressing health care changes, expected to include a move popular with many conservatives -- allowing insurance companies to sell health policies across state lines.

North Alabama Congressman Mo Brooks (R-5th) and GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore are among those who’ve called for the new insurance rules.  They’ve argued it will help bring costs down and make the insurance market more competitive.

But Huntsville Hospital CEO David Spillers said Alabama consumers are unlikely to notice a difference related to the insurance proposal.

“Well, I don’t really think it’s going to benefit Alabama at all,” Spillers told WHNT News 19 Wednesday. “I mean today you could have CIGNA, you could have United, you could have any of those national firms in here, and they really don’t have a foothold, because Blue Cross has the market share in this state.”

Spillers said Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Alabama has made the state a tough market to enter.

“You know Blue Cross of Alabama is very large, but they’re highly efficient. They have negotiated rates with providers that are extremely low,” Spillers said. “So it makes it a situation where it’s hard for somebody else to come in and negotiate with me and put out a competitive product with the Blue Cross product.”

Spillers said the healthcare market is also unlike other markets for consumers and companies.

“You really consume things based on how much money you can afford to pay,” he said. “Health insurance is totally different, we consume things with the assumption that somebody else is going to pay most of it, and I’m going to receive the benefit. That totally disconnects health care from economics.”

Spillers also said Alabama health will be affected if Congress fails to renew the CHIP, Children’s Health Insurance Program. The program provides about $90 million in federal funding to Alabama to help with health care costs for low-income families who make a bit too much money to qualify for Medicaid.

CHIP funding through Alabama’s All Kids program covers about 160,000 kids.