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Opening Remarks

Paul Ginsburg, HSC President

Paul Ginsburg: I’d like to begin the conference now as people get to their seats. I’m Paul Ginsburg from the Center for Studying Health System Change, and I want to welcome you. Thank you for coming. I also want to welcome, which will be webcasting this conference probably later in the day.

This is the first collaboration that the Center has had with Health Affairs, and we look forward to many opportunities in the future, and I want to thank John Iglehart and his colleagues at Health Affairs, especially Don Metz, for their work in putting this conference together.

Today, Health Affairs is publishing 13 papers focused on the individual insurance market, and copies of those papers are in your conference notebooks and can be accessed on the Web at And I’m sure most of you have been to, but if you’re not familiar with their name, that’s probably where many of you went a couple of weeks ago to download the article by Strunk, Ginsburg, and Gabel on health care cost tracking.

I’d also like to thank Len Nichols, who has led HSC’s efforts to create this conference and really is the key mind behind this. You’ll be hearing from him at the end of the session when he summarizes it.

The first panel is an overview panel to discuss the state of the debate about the individual health insurance market, and for millions of Americans, the individual market is a source of protection against unexpected health care costs. An estimated 10 million people have coverage that they purchased on their own directly from insurers. And millions of people move through this market at some point in the year.

The reason you came here is you know that the individual insurance market has both strengths and weaknesses. And several proposals before Congress, some of them bipartisan, would build on the individual insurance market to subsidize coverage for the uninsured.

Assessments of the individual market are relevant to the debate about tax credits and about other subsidies that would go to individuals, both how the market is behaving at present and how it would behave should subsidies be created.

This conference is intended to dig beneath the surface and explore what we know, what we don’t know, and what we need to find out about this market. We’ve sought to make sure that you hear the range of disparate views on these issues, and we’ve included people from Capitol Hill, the States, and the insurance industry in order to provide additional perspectives.

I’d like to begin by introducing the first panel. Mark Pauly is the Bendheim Chair and Professor of the Health Care Systems Department at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. Jack Hadley is a principal research associate of the Urban Institute and a senior fellow at the Center for Studying Health System Change. And Rob Cunningham is deputy editor of Health Affairs.

After their presentations, we’ll hear from two experts from the insurance industry: Tom Hefty is the chairman and chief executive officer of Cobalt Corporation and its subsidiary, Blue Cross and Blue Shield United of Wisconsin. And John Bertko is the vice president and chief actuary with Humana, Incorporated.

In order to include a wide range of views and use the audience’s time wisely, we’ve scheduled this conference, as you can see from the agenda, very tightly. I urge the speakers to keep within their allotted time. And to make sure that we don’t get behind, I’ve brought my trusty office timer. So when it rings, I’d appreciate if a speaker could finish their thought so we could go on to the next person.

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The Center for Studying Health System Change Ceased operation on Dec. 31, 2013.