IX. Health insurance discrimination
Threat: Following the passage of the original HIPAA legislation in 1996, bureaucrats at the Department of Health and Human Services created a loophole that allowed insurance companies to deny benefits (known as "source-of-injury" exclusions) to people who are injured while participating in legal transportation and recreational activities, such as riding motorcycles or off-road vehicles.
Status: In March 2009, the House of Representatives passed AMA-supported legislation that requires insurance companies to disclose activities that policies will not cover at the point-of-sale.
• H.R. 1253 was passed overwhelmingly by a vote of 422-3 before being passed to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.
• The Senate has yet to consider the legislation.
The ease of passage for H.R. 1253 demonstrated a willingness from Congress to consider the issue of source-of-injury discrimination in health insurance policies. However, many Members of Congress are not yet able to support a bill that would close the loophole on these kinds of benefit exclusions without examples of discrimination from their constituents.
What riders can do: Contact their U.S. Senators and urge them to pass H.R. 1253 to bring attention back to the issue of insurance benefit discrimination. If riders have been denied coverage for an injury sustained while legally operating a motorcycle or OHV, contact the AMA immediately to help make the case for passing legislation that closes this HIPAA loophole. Also, riders should contact the AMA if they have a policy that would deny coverage for a motorcycle- or OHV-related incident.
Contact: AMA Government Relations Department, Sheila Andrews, (202) 742-4303, firstname.lastname@example.org.
X. Mandated ABS
Threat: A recent call by the insurance industry for mandated ABS (anti-lock brake systems) on all motorcycles can bring unintended consequences for riders.
Status: The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) claims that fatal motorcycle crashes could be cut by more than one-third if all motorcycles had ABS.
• On May 6, 2010, the IIHS petitioned the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to mandate ABS for all motorcycles.
• The AMA supports the optional availability of ABS but points out that requiring ABS on all motorcycles could increase the risk of a crash under certain conditions: such as riding an off-highway motorcycle on a trail, or riding an on-highway or dual-sport motorcycle on a dirt or gravel road.
• Mandating ABS on motorcycles could increase the cost of a new bike by $1,000 or more. This is especially alarming for entry-level machines that could increase in price by as much as 20 percent.
• For more information, see ama-cycle.org/news/story.asp?id=1958.
What riders can do: Contact NHTSA Administrator David Strickland and explain why an ABS mandate is a bad idea. The fastest way to reach Strickland is to send an email to him at nhtsa.gov/Contact. Also, contact U.S. Senators and Representative and urge them not to support any efforts to mandate ABS.
AMA resources and recommendations:
• A summary of motorcycle laws by state can be viewed here: amadirectlink.com/legisltn/laws.asp.
• AMA position statements can be viewed here: amadirectlink.com/legisltn/issues.asp
• Sign up for AMA Action Alerts (does not require AMA membership): amadirectlink.com/legisltn/getInvolved/signUp.asp.
• Current AMA Action Alerts: capwiz.com/amacycle/issues.
• Join the AMA (amadirectlink.com/join/index.asp) and other advocacy organizations such as ABATE or MRF.
• Participate in the political process.
• Register to vote.