eHealth Chairman Challenges Congress to Work with the Private Sector to
Cut the Percentage of Uninsured Americans in Half by 2010
Washington, D.C. – December 7, 2000 – The office of House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-TX) today hosted a briefing given by Vip Patel, Chairman and Founder of eHealthInsurance (www.ehealthinsurance.com) about the potential of the Internet to provide a solution to the national problem of access to affordable health insurance. During the briefing, Patel challenged Congress to work with private sector companies, including eHealthInsurance, to cut the percentage of uninsured Americans in half by 2010. The current percentage of uninsured people is 20 percent, or over 43 million.
“eHealthInsurance is one of the only national health insurance brokers, representing thousands of individuals, families and small businesses as it helps them to learn about, apply for and get health insurance from over 3500 plans nationwide,” said Patel. “This reach helps us to have an objective and knowledgeable understanding of the plight of the uninsured and of how programs in various states are working or are not working, as the case may be.”
“Republicans and Democrats alike can celebrate that the Internet is starting to make an impact on the uninsured,” said Patel. “However, cutting the uninsured problem in half clearly requires all the political and economic muscle both the public and private sectors can apply to this effort.”
As part of his presentation, Patel put forward his top-three choices from among many proposed solutions for the uninsured issue. The choices were made based on an evaluation criteria that includes whether the problem is important enough to be worth tackling, whether the proposal is an impactful idea that will actually solve the problem, and whether the proposed solution can be effectively executed.
The three highest-scoring proposals, based on the criteria set out by eHealthInsurance, are:
Tax credits for the uninsured.”This is the most likely, near-term positive action step to help the uninsured,” Patel said. “And everywhere I turn it seems like the tax credit continues to draw increasingly strong bipartisan support, giving it high marks on the likelihood for adoption by Congress.” House Majority Leader Armey has introduced legislation in the House of Representatives to provide a tax credit for the uninsured.
Subsidies for high-risk pools that provide health insurance to those who are hard to insure.”High-risk pools are a solution that can really help the hundreds of thousands of people who can’t qualify in the private health insurance market due to pre-existing conditions,” Patel said. “They’re not just a good idea, but they work in 26 states.”
Create safe harbors for uninsured small businesses, and their carriers, to encourage partial reimbursement of employees for an individual health plan without the restrictions of a group plan. “Over 75 percent of U.S. businesses have less than 10 employees, and about 85 percent of those are uninsured,” Patel said. “With some legislative changes to current insurance laws, this proposal could be put into action. It would introduce employer and employee choice for the first time to the millions in small businesses. It would be a win for all parties involved.”
The briefing, attended by over 40 Congressional health care policy-makers and staffers, is the latest in a series of meetings and briefings held between members of Congress and Patel over the last year. These meetings are non-partisan, open discussions about the issues facing both the public and private sectors in working toward solutions for over 43 million uninsured Americans.
The full text of the briefing is available at www.ehealthinsurance.com/content/press/VipBriefing.shtml
For information on how eHealthInsurance is addressing the issue of the uninsured in America, go to www.ehealthinsurance.com/content/Uninsured.html
Founded in 1997, eHealthInsurance (www.ehealthinsurance.com) markets individual, family and small group health insurance and was responsible for the nation’s first Internet-based sale of a health insurance policy. The company has become the #1 destination for purchasing health insurance online by offering the broadest selection of health insurance companies and plans nationwide at the best available prices, and delivering unparalleled customer service through qualified agents.
eHealthInsurance is funded by Dell Computer, Goldman Sachs, Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers, The Sprout Group(formerly Donaldson Lufkin Jenrette), and Lightspeed Venture Partners (formerly Weiss, Peck & Greer Venture Partners). The management team and board include former or current executives of Healtheon, PacifiCare, Foundation Health, Aetna, United Healthcare, IBM, MetaCreations, Silicon Graphics, MetLife and other leading healthcare and technology companies.
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