Health Care

News Release | Health Care

Our Statement in Opposition to Graham-Cassidy Health Care Bill

The latest version of health care legislation before the U.S. Senate remains very dangerous for American consumers, and we urge a “no” vote.

News Release | U.S. PIRG | Public Health, Health Care

Our Statement on the Failure of the US Senate Health Care Bill

American consumers can breathe a sigh of relief today. The legislation that was narrowly defeated in the US Senate last night threatened to spark chaos in health insurance markets, raise costs, degrade quality of care, weaken protections for people with pre-existing conditions, and cause millions of Americans to lose health coverage.

News Release | Health Care

Our Statement on Senate Health Care Bill

Statement by Jesse Ellis O’Brien, Georgia PIRG Health Care Advocate, on public release of the “Better Care Reconciliation Act.” 

News Release | Health Care

Great News for Consumers: Anthem Drops Bid to Take Over Cigna

This morning, health insurance giant Anthem dropped its troubled bid to take over one of its top competitors, Cigna. A February district court decision to block the proposed merger on anti-trust grounds was recently upheld by the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, but with Anthem’s decision today, this anti-competitive takeover bid is finally laid to rest. This development comes after months of work by Georgia PIRG and a broad coalition of consumer and health care groups, urging close scrutiny of the merger from state and federal regulators and raising questions and concerns about the potential impact on consumers.

This week, in a big win for consumers, a district court took action to block the proposed merger between health insurance giants Anthem and Cigna. This decision follows a ruling last month that blocked the proposed merger of two more of the nation’s biggest for-profit health insurers, Aetna and Humana. These decisions come after months of work by U.S. PIRG and a broad coalition of consumer and health care groups, urging close scrutiny of the mergers from state and federal regulators and raising questions and concerns about the potential impact of the mergers.

Here's that Rx refill you didn't order

By

Health care analysts are wary of automatic-refill programs at major pharmacies, as unnecessary refills are billed to insurance companies and Medicare without customer approval.

News Release | Georgia PIRG | Health Care

Supreme Court Upholds Health Reform

Today’s decision is good news for consumers. Insurance companies can’t go back to the days of dropping your coverage once you become ill, or denying coverage to sick children. And beginning in 2014, the days of insurers being able to deny anyone coverage for “pre-existing conditions” will be history. 

Report | Georgia PIRG Education Fund | Health Care

Making the Grade

When it comes to health care, there are few magic-bullet solutions for the many problems consumers face in the marketplace: insurers don’t compete for their business, leading to higher prices and lower quality. Important information about coverage is buried in the fine print, making it ha rd to know what’s really covered or which plan is right. And costs are continuing their unsustainable rise.  

Yet there are policy solutions that can make a difference and give consumers a better deal on health care. One of the most important of these is the creation of new state-based health insurance marketplaces, called exchanges. These exchanges, authorized by 2010’s health reform law, offer the states the chance to address the win problems of cost and quality, and help consumers get a fair shake when buying insurance. 

Exchanges give individuals and small businesses the same advantages that large businesses generally enjoy when it comes to buying health insurance. Large businesses have strong negotiating power, allowing them to get a lower rate for coverage as insurers compete for their business. They also benefit from economies of scale that lower administrative costs, and have sophisticated human resources departments and brokers at their disposal, making it easier for employees to understand their options and decide which plan is right for them. 

In much the same way, exchanges give individuals and small businesses the ability to band together and gain the same benefits of size, negotiating power, and information. By providing better options and better information, and negotiating on behalf of its enrollees, the exchange can level the playing field for consumers. 

States thus have an important opportunity to improve their health care marketplaces through the creation of an exchange. And the health reform law gives the states substantial leeway to define critical aspects of the exchange, including who is eligible to buy coverage through it, how aggressively it will set standards and negotiate with insurers, and who will run it. A weak exchange could wind up taking its cues from the insurance industry, not consumers, and do little to shift the fundamental problems in most states’ health care markets. A strong exchange, though, can be just the tool states need to revolutionize their health care systems and improve quality while lowering costs.

As of this writing, several states have already taken this opportunity and established their exchanges. But not all exchanges are created equal, and many states have yet to commit to establishing one. This report assesses the progress that the states have made, and for the states that have begun to set up their exchange, evaluates them on the myriad policies and criteria that will determine whether it is ultimately successful in improving health care for consumers.

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