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CLINTON REFORM PLAN WOULD MEAN FEWER CHOICES, LESS SERVICE FOR SMALL BUSINESSES AND THEIR EMPLOYEES

 WASHINGTON, Sept. 22 /PRNewswire/ -- President Clinton's health care plan would mean fewer choices, reduced quality and less personal service for the millions of small businesses that already provide insurance coverage to their employees, according to the Association of Health Insurance Agents (AHIA).
 "America's small business owners who currently insure their employees are concerned about losing the broad range of choices and high quality of care they enjoy under the current system," said AHIA President Sam J. Cunningham, CLU, ChFC, RHU. "Simply put, they don't want the government dictating where they purchase their insurance or whom they seek out for insurance advice.
 "Imagine you are a small employer who has a long-standing relationship with an insurance agent," Cunningham said. "The agent has always helped you craft the best and most cost-efficient plan for your workers from dozens of different options, kept you advised of changes in the law, helped get claims paid and acted as advocate for you and your employees. Now you're told that your employees must go to a health alliance and pick a government-approved plan, whether it suits their specific needs or not. What kind of choice is that?
 "While we share the President's goal of affordable health care for all, we believe he is wrong to require that every firm with 5,000 or fewer employees participate in the health alliances," Cunningham continued. "Businesses want the option of continuing to purchase insurance through an agent or insurer of their choice."
 Cunningham reiterated AHIA's desire to see insurance reforms and coverage for all Americans. "We unequivocally support reforms that would extend insurance to all citizens," he said. "That's why we advocate guaranteed coverage and renewability, portability, limits on pre-existing condition exclusions and reasonable rate restrictions."
 A recent national survey of small businesses commissioned by AHIA found that a majority (83 percent) want the proposed health alliances to be voluntary. More than half (59 percent) said they expect the alliances to provide worse service than they now get from private insurers. A majority (77 percent) also said that the private insurance market should be permitted to compete on a "level playing field" with the government-sponsored alliances.
 Cunningham said that with agents excluded from the alliances, consumers will no longer receive the high degree of service they have come to expect under the existing system. The AHIA survey shows that small business people rely heavily on the advice of their agents and want to preserve that relationship (79 percent). Most also said they could not duplicate the services of an agent (52 percent) and would have to hire an outside consultant (35 percent) or add to their staff (39 percent).
 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.
 -0- 9/22/93
 /CONTACT: Jay Morris, 415-923-7552; or Tina Hoff, 202-667-0901/


CO: Association of Health Insurance Agents ST: District of Columbia IN: HEA SU:

MF-DH -- LA036 -- 4967 09/22/93 21:21 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Sep 22, 1993
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