Is bare-bones health insurance coverage better than no coverage at companies that cannot afford to offer comprehensive benefits?

That was the proverbial $64,000 question in a recent Senate panel hearing about the value and transparency of co-pay based mini-med plans. Chairman John D. Rockefeller IV (D-WV) of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee casted a suspicious eye on such plans as inadequate for covering serious health problems, while Sens. John Ensign (R-NV) and Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) argued in favor of the concept.

Amid all the talk about how mini-med plans will fare long term in a post-health care reform climate as federal regulators continue their probe, the Pan-American Life Insurance Group recently added a fully insured dental plan and vision discount plan as optional benefits as part of its signature PanaMed product. Partners include Guardian’s DentalGuard Preferred Select Network and the Avesis National Vision Network.

In a related development, Joel Wood of the Council of Insurance Agents & Brokers analyzes in an EBA Podcast the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service’s decision to keep broker commissions subject to the medical loss ratio administrative cost cap under health care reform and shares why industry advisers are gearing up for an aggressive fight ahead.

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