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Regence Supports Meaningful Health Reforms; Unveils Poll Saying Nation's Economic Woes Shouldn't Delay Reforms

PORTLAND, Ore., Dec. 15 /PRNewswire/ -- Regence, the leading health insurer in the Pacific Northwest, announced today its support for the Obama administration and Congress' move toward meaningful, patient-centered health reforms.

Kicking off its effort, Regence released the findings of a national public opinion survey of 1,002 adults, helping bring the voice of the consumer into the emerging national discussion of health reform. The new survey revealed that, by a larger than two-to-one margin, Americans believe given the economic challenges the nation faces, it is more important than ever to take on health care reform as opposed to delaying tackling the issue.

"Regence is committed to working with policymakers and stakeholders for national reform of the broken health care system," said Mark Ganz, Regence president and CEO. "Economic turmoil has turned to personal turmoil, as many Americans who have lost their jobs have also lost their health insurance. We must come together as a nation to ensure that Americans have quality, affordable health care throughout their lives."

Because thousands of people have lost their employer-provided insurance, Regence said among its key concerns is improving the way individuals purchase health insurance -- that is, find and buy insurance policies on their own rather than get coverage through work. Regence's survey revealed that a third (34%) of Americans have experience with the individual market and that two-thirds of them (65%) had difficulty finding insurance they could afford. Moreover, 20 percent of them have been turned down due to their health or the health of a family member.

Regence has proposed ideas to help alleviate these hardships, and the survey showed majorities support these ideas, which would require congressional approval to work. Americans are especially enthusiastic about eliminating medical underwriting, setting a minimum basic standard for benefits, and creating a public-private partnership to ensure coverage for those with extraordinary medical needs. Moreover, support for Regence's proposals is strong across the political spectrum.

"Americans appreciate that fixing the individual market is key to improving the whole system of health care in this country," said Ganz. "And they have said they want reforms to come immediately. Many have personally struggled to find affordable insurance in the individual market, especially those with low incomes or less than perfect health."

    Some of Regence's ideas for reform are:
    --  One national reform policy with the involvement of the federal, state
        and local governments, health insurance companies and health care
    --  Elimination of medical underwriting to ensure individuals will not be
        denied coverage or forced to pay excessive premiums because of
        preexisting conditions or poor health status,
    --  Guaranteed coverage and a standard minimum benefit covering hospital
        services, doctors' visits, prescription drugs, necessary medical
        equipment and preventative care,
    --  Community rating to account for age and geographic rate adjusters,
    --  Standardized enrollment period to ensure a high degree of stability,
    --  Development of a public-private partnership to ensure coverage for
        those with extraordinary medical needs, and
    --  Meaningful subsidies to ensure affordability.

"The health insurance industry's growing interest and engagement regarding individual market reform is encouraging," said Ganz. "These poll results underscore the sense of urgency regarding the individual market, and we believe Congress should place a high priority on this issue in terms of overall health care reform."

About the Poll

This survey was designed and analyzed by Regence and the Glover Park Group. Interviews were conducted between November 13 and 17, 2008, among a nationally representative random sample of 1,002 adults. For results based on the total sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the error attributable to sampling is plus or minus 3.2 percentage points. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error into the findings of opinion polls.

About Regence

Regence is a leading health insurer in the Northwest / Mountain State Region, offering health, life and dental insurance. Regence serves nearly three million members as Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon, Regence BlueShield (selected counties in Washington), Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Utah and Regence BlueShield of Idaho. Each plan is a not-for-profit independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. Regence is committed to improving the health of our members and our communities, and to transforming our health care system. For more information, please visit

SOURCE Regence
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