Detroit residents don’t deserve to be treated as second-class citizens, and yet this is precisely how the proposed “D Insurance” plan created in Senate Bill 288 treats them.
Now awaiting action on the Senate floor, this plan promises to cut auto insurance rates for Detroit drivers by forcing them to give up unlimited catastrophic care—or personal injury protection (PIP), should they be critically injured in a car accident. This is unfair, it provides no guarantee that auto rates will go down, and it ignores many of the real reasons that Detroiters are forced to pay excessive rates. It also undermines the platform of those who support D Insurance by allowing other communities to maintain their valuable coverage at premiums far lower than those in Detroit.
Senate Bill 288 would do away with the unlimited coverage offered in no-fault policies and limit benefits for critical care to $250,000 for the policyholder and any other family member in the car during an accident. It would then limit other personal protection benefits to $25,000. After that total limit of $275,000 has been reached, it would be up to policyholder to find other insurance to cover any remaining medical costs. Drivers are being told that their health insurance will pick up the tab – but there are very few services covered by health insurance that a person badly injured in a car accident needs to recover (like attendant care).
SB 288 is playing a dangerous game with the health and livelihood of those who opted for this compromised coverage.
Detroiters deserve equal options for equal coverage – yet this very limited policy for medical care would not be offered to any other Michigan resident. It would only be available to people living in cities that meet certain criteria including a population of at least 500,000 residents – i.e., Detroit – or a city that can demonstrate that 35 percent of its residents are driving uninsured, again Detroit. Why should the residents of Detroit have to give up necessary medical care coverage when the auto insurers won’t even guarantee to lower their auto insurance bills in return?
This “D Insurance” policy allows insurance companies to second-guess the care decisions made by a patient’s doctor, and that puts people in a no-win situation. The policy also allows the insurance company to create its own provider networks. Anyone with this policy who is critically injured loses the right to choose their own medical providers, and will have seriously limited choices when it comes to doctors and other medical care professionals. If they go out-of-network for care, the insurance company can refuse—and will certainly– to pay.
Detroiters deserve lower auto insurance rates with the same level of benefits that those in other Michigan communities receive. If we are truly concerned with real rate reduction, then we need to put a stop to red lining by removing ZIP codes, credit scores, occupation and education from the list of factors that influence the excessive auto insurance rates Detroiters pay. We can’t allow insurance companies or those pushing D Insurance to treat Detroit resident as second-class citizens, and that is why I cannot and will not support SB 288.
Michigan State Representative Brian Banks (D-Detroit) represents Michigan’s 1st District, and is Chairman of the Detroit Caucus. Rep. Banks can be reached by email at BrianBanks@house.mi.gov, or you may visit his website, banks.housedems.com.