Friday, July 3, 2009

Senate Panel Questions Private Insurers' Credibility, Shows Need for a Public Plan

As the public health plan option, adamantly opposed by insurers, is considered in the Senate, the Senate Commerce Committee released a report last week exposing greedy and dishonest acts by insurance companies. The report showed the industry's obvious motives to profiteer at the expense of sick people. Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller IV (D-WV) released the findings as part of a multi-pronged assault on the credibility of private insurers and as evidence of the need for a public plan. The Committee also heard testimonials last week from three health care specialists, including the former vice president of communications at big insurer Cigna. Witnesses stated that insurers sell "junk" policies that do not cover needed care.

Moreover, insurers have deliberately instilled confusion upon consumers by using Ingenix, a subsidiary of UnitedHealth, in order to systematically underpay for out-of-network care, placing an additional burden on many patients who pay higher premiums in order to use doctors and hospitals outside their insurer's network. As a result, consumers have paid billions of dollars in medical bills that were supposed to be paid by insurers. "We must create a public plan. Private insurers cannot be allowed to continue turning their backs on the sick costumers who need them most desperately," said Barbara J. Easterling, President of the Alliance.

Source: July 3, 2009 issue of the Friday Alert

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