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SEIU Launches Nationwide Actions To Question Health Insurance Industry Tactics

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 4, 2008
3:40 PM

CONTACT: SEIU
Sara Howard
202-320-1467
sara.howard@seiu.org

 
SEIU Launches Nationwide Actions To Question Health Insurance Industry Tactics
New Report Reveals Industry Making Record Profits While Patients Struggle With Rising Costs, Lower Quality
 
NATIONWIDE - August 4 - With a series of events in states across the country, SEIU will call attention to health care insurance industry tactics that do more to ensure profits than insure patients.

On Tuesday, August 5, SEIU members and other health care consumers will hold events targeting the insurance industry in Iowa, New Hampshire and Oregon.  Participants will distribute information to the media, provide first-hand accounts, and demand answers from the companies.  In the coming weeks, additional events will be held in Colorado, Rhode Island, Washington, Missouri and other states.  Details on Tuesday’s events can be found below.

“Big oil isn’t the only industry making record profits while consumers struggle to keep up with rising prices,” said SEIU President Andy Stern.  “Insurance companies are charging more, covering less, and getting rich in the process.  And it’s the American people who are paying the price.”

According to a new report examining financial trends in the insurance industry, the combined profits of the nation’s largest insurance companies and their subsidiaries increased by over 170 percent between 2003 and 2007.  The report, which is available in full at www.nwfco.org, adds to already compelling evidence that the insurance industry is using deliberate tactics designed to maximize profits by raising premiums, co-pays and deductibles; refusing coverage or charging exorbitant rates to people with pre-existing conditions; and even retroactively denying coverage to people with insurance.  Here are the facts:

§         Costs are UP:  Insurance premiums rose over four times as fast as wages between 2000 and 2006. (Kaiser Family Foundation)

§         Quality is DOWN:  A Consumer Reports survey indicated that nationwide, 29 percent of adults with insurance had “coverage so meager they often postponed medical care because of costs.” (Consumerreports.org)

§         Industry Profits are through the roof:  Between 2003 and 2007, the profits of the nation’s largest insurers rose 170.2 percent, to $12.6 billion. (www.nwfco.org)

Calling attention to insurance industry practices that hurt consumers is an integral part of SEIU’s sweeping election-year campaign to win health care for every man, woman, and child in America.  Across the country, SEIU is mobilizing voters to elect a pro-health care President and Congress – and taking on the enemies of health care.  The campaign also includes

§         Paid advertising in targeted markets that draws sharp distinctions between the Republican and Democratic presidential nominees’ approach to health care, and what those differences will mean to working families.

§         An aggressive voter contact campaign – targeting competitive races in seven states – that is using mail, phone calls, and paid and earned media to help elect a health care majority in Congress and to send a clear message to lawmakers that health care must be their number one priority in 2009.

§         An intense earned media presence to highlight John McCain’s bad record on health care, particularly his policy proposals that would make it harder for average Americans to get quality, affordable health care coverage.

§         A nationwide bus tour – The Road to American Health Care – that is traveling through battleground states on its way to the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, stopping in communities small and large to highlight real people who are struggling to afford health care

§         The collection of thousands of health care stories, giving voice to the millions of people with and without coverage who are finding it impossible to keep up with rising health care costs.

 

Last month, SEIU and its allies in HCAN (Health Care for American Now) held a massive demonstration outside of the launch of the insurance industry’s sham health care “listening tour.”  Along with the upcoming events beginning Tuesday, SEIU will have helped stage more than a dozen actions nationwide to highlight insurance industry tactics that prioritize profits over people.

DETAILS ON TUESDAY’S EVENTS FOLLOW:

Des Moines, Iowa

Nolan Plaza

12:00 p.m. CT

 

Manchester, New Hampshire

City Hall Plaza

10:00 a.m. ET

 

Salem, Oregon

State Capitol press conference room

10:30 a.m. PT

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With 2 million members in Canada, the United States and Puerto Rico, SEIU is the fastest-growing union in the Americas. Focused on uniting workers in healthcare, public services and property services, SEIU members are winning better wages, healthcare, and more secure jobs for our communities, while uniting their strength with their counterparts around the world to help ensure that workers, not just corporations and CEOs, benefit from today's global economy.

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