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Association Health Plans Bill Shortchanges Working Americans

June 20, 2003

Association Health Plans Bill Shortchanges Working Americans
Statement of Consumers Union on House passage of H.R. 660

“Consumers Union believes that small business employees need better healthcare options, but H.R. 660 is not the solution. The U.S. House of Representatives has failed to provide them with the comprehensive healthcare coverage they need. H.R. 660 will allow for the creation of association health plans (AHPs) that will potentially give consumers only skimpy benefits. AHPs will not be required to provide consumers with the benefits mandated by their states – such as mammography screening, cervical cancer screening, or well-child care.
AHPs will also be exempt from state insurance regulations requiring healthcare plans to maintain reserves to pay claims and to market their plans fairly. In addition, AHPs will ‘cherry-pick’ healthy individuals out of existing insurance pools because they will offer cheaper, skimpier benefits that suffice for the healthy. This cherry-picking of the healthy will undermine state insurance reform efforts that are designed to spread costs broadly and make coverage more affordable to high-risk people. Rates will go up for sicker individuals, and healthier people will get only bare-bones coverage.
In passing H.R. 660, the House neglected to give small business employees coverage that won’t fail them when they need it most.”
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