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Consumer Watchdog Comments on Health Insurer's Self-Serving Support of 'Individual Mandate'
Date:11/19/2008

SANTA MONICA, Calif., Nov. 19 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Consumer Watchdog said the health insurance industry's support today of national health care reform on the condition that it includes a requirement that every American buy insurance coverage - the so called "individual mandate" - is self-serving. The proposal amounts only to a customer delivery system for the fragmented, wasteful private insurance market. It will not solve America's health care problems and will only encourage the industry to charge higher premiums and demand more taxpayer subsidies while providing less health care.

"Insurance companies expect praise because they are 'willing' to sell their policies at whatever price they want to people who are forced to buy? That's like GM agreeing to a bailout plan that requires every American to buy a new Suburban each year, as long as GM gets to set the price and decide whether or not to include the transmission," said Jerry Flanagan of Consumer Watchdog. "If consumers can't afford coverage, or refuse to pay for a junk policy, they'll face tax penalties. Turning the U.S. government into a collection agency for for-profit health insurers is not universal health care, it's full employment for HMO executives."

Not surprisingly, the mandatory purchase of health insurance is unpopular with middle-class Americans when they are told they could have to pay some of the premium costs, according to a 2008 Campaign for Consumer Rights poll. Less than one in five voters (16%) support such a plan. Nearly two-thirds (63%) are opposed when told there is no limit on what insurers could charge. According to a recent Boston Globe poll, only 37% of those impacted by the Massachusetts' individual mandate support it.

The Campaign of Consumer Rights poll is available at: http://www.campaignforconsumerrights.org/.

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SOURCE Consumer Watchdog
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