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HEALTH AGENTS RESPOND TO PUBLIC CITIZEN REPORT ON UNINSURED

 HEALTH AGENTS RESPOND TO PUBLIC CITIZEN REPORT ON UNINSURED
 WASHINGTON, Dec. 18 /PRNewswire/ -- Association of Health Insurance Agents (AHIA) President Robert W. DeCoursey, CLU, issued the following statement today in response to a press briefing held by Public Citizen on the subject of uninsured Americans:
 Life and health insurance agents are very concerned about the plight of those Americans who do not have health insurance and continue to seek reforms to extend coverage to the uninsured. Reforms we support include full deductibility of health insurance premiums for all businesses, preemption of state laws which restrict managed care and cost sharing, establishment of state reinsurance pools to cover high-risk individuals, underwriting changes and improvements in the small employer group market, expansion of Medicaid to cover those unable to obtain private insurance, as well as medical tort reform and various other cost containment measures.
 Contrary to Public Citizen's statements today, its own report shows no dramatic increase in the number of uninsured in this country. In fact, the report indicates that in 20 states the number of uninsured actually went down in 1990. And the total number of uninsured, 34.7 million, is actually lower than some previous estimates.
 It must also be pointed out that 87 percent of our citizens are covered by some form of insurance. Our goal as a nation should be to extend coverage to the remaining 13 percent, not scrap our current delivery system in favor of the untested government-run approach advocated by Public Citizen.
 AHIA disagrees strongly with Public Citizen's assessment that insurer administrative costs are too high and that a government-run system would be less expensive to administer. Private health insurance administrative costs generally amount to no more than 5 percent of total health care costs. And the oft-cited comparison to Medicare does not take into account the government's own indirect costs such as rent, cost of capital, etc., or the fact that insurers pay taxes.
 The diversity, choice and quality inherent in our private sector approach to health care could never be matched by a single-payer system. In fact, studies have indicated that the Canadian plan has not led to significant cost savings and, in fact, has resulted in critical shortages of medical supplies and personnel, restrictions on research for new technology and long waiting periods for certain medical procedures.
 AHIA, a conference of the National Association of Life Underwriters (NALU), provides legislative, educational and public relations support to agents who sell and service health insurance and employee benefit plans.
 NALU, founded in 1890, is a federation of 1,000 state and local life underwriters associations. The 139,000 members of these local associations are sales professionals in life and health insurance and other related financial services.
 -0- 12/18/91
 /CONTACT: Jay Morris of the National Association of Life Underwriters, 202-331-6030/ CO: National Association of Life Underwriters ST: District of Columbia IN: INS SU:


DC -- DC016 -- 3518 12/18/91 15:26 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Dec 18, 1991
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