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Baucus Health Plan Won't Rein in Health Insurer Price Gouging of Middle Class; Consumer Watchdog Calls for 'Prior Approval' Rate Regulation in Health Reform
Date:9/16/2009

WASHINGTON, Sept. 16 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The new health reform plan released today by U.S. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) will charge middle-class families nearly 20% of their annual income for health coverage, while letting insurance companies charge what they please for policies, said Consumer Watchdog. The consumer group, which pioneered the most successful insurance premium regulation law in the nation, today said only the extension of such regulation to health insurance can make insurance affordable -- which it must be, if Americans will be forced to buy it.

The group called on Congress to adopt health insurance rate regulation that requires prior approval of rate increases. Such regulation has saved drivers in California $62 billion on auto insurance rates since 1988, and similar savings would be expected for health insurance rates. Such regulation would control the startling health premium and out of pocket rates illustrated in a chart leaked from the Senate Finance Committee, showing yearly average out-of-pocket costs of $15,300 for a family of four making $78,000.

Americans who do not purchase insurance policies under the Baucus plan would pay up to $3,800 in penalties.

"Government cannot force families to pay more than their mortgage to purchase coverage from a for-profit insurer," said Jerry Flanagan, health policy director of Consumer Watchdog. "Yet if families paying more than 10% are automatically exempted from the law, they will still be without health care. It's an impossible bind, and tough, transparent regulation is the right start to fixing it."

Download Consumer Watchdog's report, Regulation, Not Deregulation: The Prescription for Lowering Health Costs Without Cutting Coverage (With or Without a Public Option), at:

SOURCE Consumer Watchdog
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