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Consumer Group Finds Use of Outdated Data and Other Major Flaws in Economist's Defense of Mandatory Purchase of Private Health Insurance
Date:2/12/2008

SANTA MONICA, Calif., Feb. 12 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A consumer group today released a critique of a report by MIT economist Jonathan Gruber supporting mandatory purchase of private insurance which used 30-year-old data to show that most Americans are "over-insured" and to defend the affordability of the plan.

Download the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights' (FTCR) critique of Gruber's report: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/resources/MandatoryInsuranceCritique.pdf

FTCR identified major flaws in Gruber's report, including that it:

-- Relies on 30-year old data to conclude that most people are "over-insured," utilizing too much health care unless they face punitive co-pays and deductibles. However, this study is both out-of-date and flawed by the unrepresentatively low out-of-pocket costs of the plans studied. Today, yearly premiums for a family of four top $12,000 annually, and over the past six years, the amount families pay out-of-pocket each year for their share of premiums has increased by about $1,500. Nearly one out of four Americans under the age of 65 -- 61.6 million people -- is in a family that will spend more than 10% of its pre-tax income on health care costs in 2008.

-- Relies on an out-of-date health insurance profit and overhead figure of 12% and avoids discussing the explosion in insurer profitability since 2000. Some experts say that up to 50% of overall health spending now goes to clinical and insurer administrative waste, inflated prices, and fraud by doctors and hospitals.

-- Relies on unsubstantiated notions, originated by insurers themselves, that requiring Americans to buy unaffordable and poor quality health insurance policies is a necessary component of reform.

-- Assumes that the insurance market is highly competitive, ignoring extreme market consolidation that will inevitab
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SOURCE Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights
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