Widow Calls on Congress to Answer 5 Questions Before Voting on Enzi Junk Insurance Bill
Santa Monica, CA -- A consumer group said today that the annual "Cover the Uninsured Week" should be renamed "Uninsuring the Insured Week" in light of a proposal to be voted on by the U.S. Senate that would devastate family health coverage and create more barriers for those who are currently uninsured.
Dana Christensen, a widow left with over $450,000 in medical bills when her husband died of cancer even though she was insured in an 'association health plan' posed five questions that Congress must answer for the American public before voting on the bill, S. 1955, sponsored by Sen. Michael Enzi of Wyoming.
"The kumbaya mood in Washington regarding this bill, which is touted as insuring more people, masks the fact that the nation's largest insurers and business associations are pushing a policy that would in fact uninsure the insured," said Jerry Flanagan of the nonpartisan Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR). "True reform would use the purchasing power of a public health program like Medicare to bypass insurers altogether, pay hospitals and doctors directly and purchase prescription drugs in bulk."
Under S. 1955 insurers could circumvent state health insurance regulation and consumer protections to price employers and families out of their current health plans and replace them with inferior policies. Insurance companies would be allowed to sell this junk insurance to individuals and employers at higher rates based on gender, age and where they live, even though this type of discrimination is currently illegal in California and many other states.
Dana Christensen and her husband Doug purchased a chemotherapy rider when they bought coverage through the National Association of the Self Employed. When Doug's bone cancer recurred, the Christensen's discovered their coverage only paid $1,000 a day for chemotherapy even though actual costs can run 20 times more. Once Dana had to pay $8,000 just to get Doug admitted to the hospital because her insurer would no longer pay.
FTCR and Dana Christensen called on Members of Congress to answer the following five questions that reflect how S. 1955 would further degrade health care by exempting health insurers from state patient protection laws:
1. Are you really insured if your health insurance can leave you owing $450,000 in medical bills because your policy doesn't cap the amount that you must pay? More Info: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/healthcare/st/?postId=5795
3. Are you really insured if your insurance doesn't cover chemotherapy costs, cancer screenings, emergency services, and other basic medical care? More info: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/healthcare/AHP/
4. Are you really insured if state bans on "drive thru" deliveries and guarantees of independent medical review when an insurer denies coverage for care are eliminated? More Info: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/healthcare/nw/?postId=6131
5. Are you really insured if your insurer can no longer be held accountable by state regulators or be forced to pay damages for fraud? More Info: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/healthcare/pr/?postId=6139
Supporters claim that S. 1955 will decrease the number of uninsured workers. FTCR said that "insuring more people in plans that don't provide real coverage is a sham. Encouraging employers to drop good plans for junk plans is even worse. Insurance that doesn't meet basic health care needs means patients will not be able to afford care even though they're counted as insured."
- 30 -
The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR) is California's leading nonpartisan consumer advocacy organization. For more information, visit us on the web at: http://www.ConsumerWatchdog.org