WHAT IS AN INSURANCE POLICYHOLDER AND PATIENT ASSOCIATION?
An Insurance Policyholder and Patient Association (IPPA) is a non-profit, statewide organization of insurance consumers. IPPA will advocate for fair and reasonable insurance rates and quality services before regulatory agencies, the legislature, and the courts. IPPA is modeled after the Citizen Utility Boards, or CUBs, that were conceived by Ralph Nader as a way for consumers to pool their resources to effectively fight for fair telephone, electric, gas and water rates and sensible energy policies.
WHY SHOULD THE LEGISLATURE ESTABLISH IPPA WHEN PRIVATE INDIVIDUALS CAN ORGANIZE A NON-PROFIT TO CARRY OUT THE SAME GOALS?
One of the main advantages of the legislatively-established IPPA that lies at the heart of the CUB model, is the ability to “piggyback” onto already-existing mailers of other agencies (or corporations), thus providing a huge cost-savings in fundraising efforts without any additional costs to those agencies or companies. This fundraising ability conferred on IPPA together with the democratically organized structure of IPPA will allow all California insurance consumers to pool their money and have a voice in insurance policy decisions.
WHAT DOES IPPA DO?
Every year, the insurance industriy spends millions of dollars to advocate for higher rates and fewer consumer protections. Ironically, the cost of the insurers’ advocacy efforts are passed on to consumers through their insurance premiums–dollars that should be spent on paying legitimate claims on time and providing quality service. IPPA gives policyholders and patients a way to fight back. By pooling their resources, IPPA members can hire their own professional staff of lawyers, lobbyists, and organizers to challenge unfair insurance rates and practices.
WHO CONTROLS IPPA?
Policyholders who join IPPA control the association through the democratic election of its board of directors. IPPA is guided by a 21-member board with one director elected by dues paying IPPA members per electoral district [made up of two state senatorial districts each] with an extra member elected from one district each year. The board, working as volunteers, hires IPPA’s professional staff and determines the association’s policies and goals.
HOW IS IPPA FUNDED?
IPPA is funded by voluntary contributions from policyholders and patients, grants and donations.
WHERE HAVE SIMILAR ORGANIZATIONS BEEN ESTABLISHED AND WHAT ARE THEIR TRACK RECORDS?
There are now statewide CUBs in Illinois, Oregon, and Wisconsin and a municipal CUB-like organization called UCAN operating in San Diego. The Wisconsin and Illinois CUBs were established by state legislatures in 1979 and 1983 respectively. San Diego’s UCAN was set up by order of the state Public Utilities Commission in 1983. Oregon’s CUB was approved by voters through a binding referendum in 1984. Since its inception, Illinois CUB has represented consumer interests in more than 300 regulatory proceedings involving virtually every major electric, gas and telephone company in the state, and as a result of its work, Illinois consumers have saved a total of more than $5 billion. Oregon CUB has saved consumers over $1 billion through utility rate reductions and refunds. Among its accomplishments over the last 15 years, Wisconsin CUB successfully uncovered gross mismanagement by a major utility company leading to the denial of 75% of a $100 million dollar rate increase that would have passed nuclear cost overruns on to consumers.
WHY IS IPPA NECESSARY? DON’T EXISTING GOVERNMENT AGENCIES SUFFICIENTLY REPRESENT THE INTERESTS OF HEALTH CARE CONSUMERS? WHY ADD ANOTHER LAYER OF BUREAUCRACY?
IPPA, like existing CUBs, is funded solely by voluntary membership contributions, not tax dollars and so is not subject to the political process involved in allocating budgets for government programs. Further, IPPA has only one mission–to advocate the interests of California insurance consumers. Unlike some regulatory agencies, it does not have a dual allegiance to both businesses and consumers. Because IPPA is a private, non-profit public benefit corporation, it will not add another layer of bureaucracy to any government agency.