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Report: Lack of Competition Forcing up Health Insurance Rates

May 21, 2009

Las Vegas, NV – Health insurance rates are on the way up and a lack competition is to blame, according to "Health Care for America Now." The new report says health insurance rates are rising two and a half times faster than wages in Nevada.

Launce Rake, with the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada, says just two companies control 57 percent of the insurance market in the state. That leaves few health care options for the 1-in-10 Nevadans who are currently unemployed, he says.

"People then are turning to the emergency rooms, or just not getting the health coverage they need. We really are talking like a crisis for many, many thousands of families here in Nevada - and other states as well - that have high unemployment."

According to insurance companies, Nevadans have ample coverage and competition is higher in Nevada than in many other states. President Obama has proposed a public health insurance option that would allow the federal government to offer a health plan that could compete with private health insurers.

Reno restaurant owner Jesus Guiterrez warns that the lack of competition gives insurance companies too much control. He learned that the hard way, when an insurance company agreed to repair his infant daughter's cleft palate, then refused to cover the procedure, saying it was a pre-existing condition.

"I said how can it be a pre-existing condition when she's a brand new baby, and you guys pre-approved all the surgery? And then 12 months later you're telling me it's pre-existing and you guys aren't going to pay for it - what is that?!"

Guiterrez says the company did offer to continue coverage for himself and his wife, but he refused to accept it because it did not include coverage for their baby girl.

More information about the report and the public health option is available at www.healthcareforamericanow.org. The Nevada report is available at hcfan.3cdn.net.


Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NV