Santa Monica, CA -- The health plan that President Bush is expected to announce in Tuesday's State of the Union address, "isn't worth a dime because it allows insurance companies to sell junk policies that don't protect patients when they are sick," according to a widow whose husband was insured under the type of limited benefits policy being promoted by Bush, but owed a half million dollars in medical bills when he died from cancer.
The tragic story of Dana and Doug Christensen is part of a new online resource published by the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR) pointing out the skeletal benefits and new burdens under the "Bush Care" health proposals to be unveiled in tomorrow's State of the Union address. Visit FTCR's "Bush-Care" resource page at: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/healthcare/BushCare/
"What's the point of paying for health insurance and then when you need it, discovering the benefits you thought were promised and paid for just aren't there?" said Dana Christensen, a volunteer with FTCR who lives in Playa Del Rey, California. "Mega Life had told us that they would pay 80% of hospital costs and we would pay 20%. They didn't tell us that chemotherapy was capped at $1,000 a day. Doug's chemotherapy charges were as high as $18,000 a day!"
According to information already released from the white house, Bush-Care would "require patients to pay more for less health care," said Jerry Flanagan of FTCR by:
- Expanding junk-benefit "association health plans," insurance policies that promise cheap, comprehensive coverage but don't cap the amount of money consumers pay out of pocket. The president's plan would remove association health plans from accountability to state consumer protection rules and courts.
- Relying on health savings accounts, which promise lower monthly premiums but require patients to pay a lot more out of pocket before coverage kicks in. When patients bear a greater cost, they delay needed treatment and increase health costs in the long run.
- Extending individual tax deductions for health care costs, a scheme to "let insurance companies and big pharma steal our money then give us a tax deduction to soften the blow," said FTCR.
Though the Christensens were insured with an association health plan, Dana was left with $450,000 in unpaid medical bills when her husband died of bone cancer. Their insurance had no limit on out of pocket costs for patients, unlike traditional health insurance or HMOs. It covered only a small portion of chemotherapy costs even though Dana was told they'd had full coverage. On his deathbed, Dana's husband Doug asked her to divorce him so she would not be responsible for the bills. She refused. Read the Christensens' story at: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/healthcare/st/?postId=5795
"I think President Bush is more concerned about the welfare of the insurance business than in quality health care for people like you and me," said Dana Christensen. "I wish he would sit down with me and let me tell him what happened to Doug before he promotes these plans."
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The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR) is the nation's leading consumer watchdog group. For more information visit us online at: http://www.ConsumerWatchdog.org