Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Schwartz on Health Insurance Marketplace

From the inbox:

U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz voted today to ensure that American consumers have access to choice and competition when purchasing health insurance for themselves and their families. The Health Insurance Industry Fair Competition Act will require health insurance companies to compete fairly and adhere to anti-trust laws, ensuring lower prices for American consumers.

“For too long, health insurance companies have been playing by their own rules and middle class families have been paying the price,” Schwartz said. “Families are facing higher premiums, lower quality of coverage and limited choices, all while insurance companies are increasing prices and reaping record profits. We can no longer afford the status quo.”

Recently, California’s largest for-profit health insurer made headlines after announcing a 15 percent rate increase for its customers, and insurers in other states are calling for double-digit rate increases for individual plans as well.

“In Pennsylvania, current rate spikes are topping 20 percent annually, nearly 40 percent in previous years,” Schwartz said. “It’s time we revoked this long-standing and unjustified exemption for health insurers. It’s time American consumers got a fair deal when shopping for something as important as health insurance.”

The Health Insurance Industry Fair Competition Act goes hand in hand with the Congresswoman’s efforts to reform the health insurance market. She has introduced legislation to ban pre-existing condition exclusions and has worked to dramatically improve transparency for consumers when they purchase health insurance.

For 65 years, the health insurance industry has been legally exempt from anti-trust laws and the federal government was banned from even investigating evidence of possible collusion. In the last 14 years alone, there have been 400 mergers among health insurers and now 94 percent of all insurance markets provide limited or no choice between insurance providers.

In Pennsylvania, Blue Cross, Capital Blue Cross and Blue Cross of Northeast Pennsylvania share 60 percent of the health insurance market.

“Competition drives economic growth, spurs American innovation and ensures that consumers are getting a fair deal,” Schwartz said. “This bill creates a fair health insurance marketplace and ensures strong oversight of insurance companies.”

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