Santa Monica, CA – A new national report finds that more Californians died in 2010 because they lack health coverage than did in any other state, a number that is also higher than the number of people who die due to traffic accidents or homicide every year in California. A ballot initiative proposed for the November ballot would increase Californians’ access to health insurance by prohibiting excessive rate increases and making health insurance more affordable.
The ballot initiative sponsored by Consumer Watchdog Campaign would require health insurance companies to publicly justify rate increases and get approval before rates take effect. It would allow the state insurance commissioner to modify or reject unfair and excessive rates. The public can sign up for initiative updates and join the campaign for fair insurance prices at www.JustifyRates.org.
“Making health insurance prices fairer will give more Californians access to health insurance coverage that’s currently out of reach,” said Carmen Balber with Consumer Watchdog Campaign. “This ballot initiative would make health insurance more affordable by preventing the kind of excessive and unjustified rate increases that health insurance companies have been imposing on consumers and small businesses year after year. Even more important than protecting Californians’ pocketbooks, yesterday’s report that thousands of Californians die every year because they are uninsured shows that this ballot initiative can also save lives.”
The report issued by Families USA and based on research from the Institute of Medicine found that 3,164 Californians died in 2010 because they were uninsured. The California Department of Justice reports that 1,809 Californians died from homicide in 2010. The US Census Bureau reports that 3,081 Californians died in traffic accidents in 2009.
The California HealthCare Foundation’s Health Care Almanac reports that California has the highest number of uninsured in the country at 6.9 million. Health insurance premiums in California have increased by 153% in the last decade, five times the rate of inflation.
Click here to download the Families USA report.
Health insurance companies plan new rate increases for California small business customers of up to 24% in July and August this summer. These rate hikes will undoubtedly drive some small business owners to stop offering health insurance coverage for their employees because it is no longer affordable, said Consumer Watchdog Campaign.
In April, Aetna raised rates as high as 20% for small businesses with 77,000 employees, despite the fact that the state insurance commissioner found that the rate increase was excessive. The ballot initiative would give the state insurance commissioner the authority to say no to an excessive increase like Aetna’s.
The ballot initiative is awaiting verification of the 800,000 signatures submitted by patients and consumer advocates last month to qualify the insurance rate reform measure for the November ballot.
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Consumer Watchdog Campaign is chaired by insurance reform Proposition 103 author Harvey Rosenfield. Consumer Watchdog Campaign is the campaign affiliate of Consumer Watchdog, which was founded by Rosenfield and whose president, Jamie Court, an award-winning consumer advocate and author, is the proponent of the proposed ballot initiative.