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Consumer Group: Hillary Clinton's Mandatory Health Insurance Purchase Plan is an Act of War on the Middle Class Family That Can't Afford $12k Policy
Date:9/17/2007

Clinton Takes Over $1 Million From Insurers, Would Force All Americans to Buy Private Coverage

SANTA MONICA, Calif., Sept. 17 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR) today condemned Senator Hillary Clinton's mandatory health insurance purchase plan as a gift to insurers that have given over $1 million in campaign contributions to her presidential campaign.

FTCR said that a plan that would require every American to buy private health insurance without a cap on how much Americans would be charged is an attack on the middle class. The average American health insurance policy for a family of four costs $12,000 per year; Clinton did not say how average Americans would pay for it.

"A woman perceived as the architect of socialized medicine in America is now the godmother of a plan for corporate socialism," said Jamie Court, President of the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR). "That's a testament to the power of health insurer campaign contributions. This plan guarantees insurers a market for their products at any cost. Senator Clinton's plan is a declaration of war on middle-class families who cannot afford $12,000 a year for a health insurance policy because the Clinton plan doesn't cap premiums or regulate them. The only reason to force Americans to buy health insurance is to bailout an industry that's failed to make its products attractive enough to the market."

FTCR said that the individual mandate is untenable and that real health care reform must rein in health insurance companies.

-- A recent report by the Kaiser Family Foundation showed that the average cost of coverage for a family of four is now $12,000, not including deductibles that often require families to spend $5,000 out-of-pocket before insurance coverage kicks in.

-- Health insurance premiums are increasing 250% faster than the rate of inflation because health insurers are keeping more health care premium dollars for profit.

-- Health insurance premiums have increased 78% since 2001 compared to a 19% increase in wages and a 17% increase in inflation, according to the Kaiser report.

FTCR said that a hallmark of so-called 'individual mandate' proposals, like that already in place in Massachusetts, is high-cost polices that provide minimum benefit, bare-bones coverage. These policies do not adequately protect patients when they become sick.

"With $12,000 annual health insurance premiums fueling double-digit insurer profit increases, health reform must rein in insurance companies, not give them more control over our health care," said Jerry Flanagan of the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights. "Clinton's plan to require all Americans to buy health insurance would force people to choose between rent and health insurance, which could force people to go bankrupt if they make the wrong choice or turn into tax dodgers if they fail to buy unaffordable health insurance."

The nation's largest insurers reported double-digit profit increases for the second quarter of 2007:

-- WellPoint, the nation's largest insurer and parent company of Blue Cross of California, reported an 11% profit increase over 2006.

-- UnitedHealth, the second largest insurer and parent of PacifiCare of California, reported a 22% increase in earnings over 2006.

-- Aetna's profit was up 27% over 2006.

-- Health Net's profit increased 23.1% over 2006.

According to Weiss Ratings, between 2001 & 2005, HMOs and health insurers nationally have recorded more than $38 billion in profits -- enough money to provide health insurance to 12 million Americans for an entire year.

In 2005, medical bills were responsible for half of all bankruptcies. Of the approximately 1 million Americans who file for bankruptcy each year as a result of illness, three-quarters have insurance; most have college degrees, are working and own their homes according to a Harvard Medical School report.

FTCR is California's leading public interest watchdog. For more information, visit us on the web at http://www.ConsumerWatchdog.org


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SOURCE Foundation for Taxpayer & Consumer Rights
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