Families forced into bankruptcy, people with chronic conditions going without necessary care, and low-income families experiencing the squeeze of unexpected medical bills are merely symptoms of the larger problems in our health care system. Today we leave too many Americans without health insurance—and even more without adequate coverage. High deductibles and unrealistic copayment responsibilities leave people with chronic illness at perpetual risk of financial ruin. Health insurance companies are able to deny coverage to people with health problems, exclude pre-existing conditions from coverage when they offer it, and charge unmanageable premiums. They can even rescind coverage when their policyholders get sick, leaving people who had faithfully paid their premiums without the financial protection they thought they had paid for.
Congress can fix these problems. Health reforms that ensure that all Americans have health insurance coverage with adequate benefits and reasonable copayment responsibilities will provide real financial protection and real access to health care services. Health reforms that curb insurance companies’ discriminatory practices will ensure that everyone can purchase and retain comprehensive coverage, including coverage for pre-existing conditions. And health reforms that require everyone to have coverage, while guaranteeing that individual and family premium contributions are affordable, will end the cost-shifting and uninsurance that are hallmarks of the current system.
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