N.J. lawmakers host round table on lowering health-care costs

The New Jersey Assembly’s Republican Policy Committee led a round-table discussion at the statehouse Wednesday to examine what can be done to make health care more affordable in the Garden State.

Representatives of health-care organizations, insurance companies, and business groups offered various suggestions about controlling costs.

Medical Society of New Jersey President Dr. Niranjan Rao said incentives should be built into health-insurance plans to encourage subscribers to get preventive care.

“Give something off. Take off a certain amount of premium if it will lead to a healthier life,” Rao said. “The subscriber or the patient that we’re taking about needs to be accountable for their own health.”

Some large companies already offer those kinds of incentives, but the New Jersey Business and Industry Association says smaller companies have difficulty finding that type of coverage.

“Large employers who are sort of on the cutting edge are finding that a value-based benefit design where you reduce the co-pays and encourage patients to be healthier in their lifestyles do result in cost savings and that they are a good return on their investment,” said Christine Stearns, association vice president. “It takes a while for that innovation to filter down for small employers.”

Health care has been debated for years, said Assemblyman Scott Rumana, who advocates a comprehensive approach to making changes. He said he hopes a package of regulatory and legislative reforms can be developed within a year.

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