AUTO INSURANCE ACTIONS FORCE HIGHER HEALTH CARE COSTS
Taxpayers and Small Business Pay the Price in Higher Health Insurance Premiums
America’s biggest insurance companies employ a strategy designed to protect profits over policyholders by refusing to pay claims by people who are injured in accidents. The strategy known as “deny, delay, defend” often leaves the tab for unpaid medical bills to health insurance companies and the taxpayers.
“The insurance industry has reaped billions in profits by denying legitimate claims of people who purchased insurance to protect their family,” said Mark Thomsen, President of the Wisconsin Association for Justice. “Their profits soar while their denials continue to force health insurance premiums to rise increasing the burden on small businesses and taxpayers.”
An 18-month investigation by CNN showed that if you are injured in a car accident, you will be in for the fight of your life to get the insurance company to pay your medical costs, even if the accident was no fault of your own. A review of over 6,000 industry and court documents showed that insurance companies often offer to pay for only a portion of medical costs incurred in an accident. The victim is left with two choices, accept the offer and not pay for the medical care or go to court and be dragged through the wringer.
“Insurance companies are betting that people will not fight back and will take what they offer and walk away,” Thomsen added. “Insurance companies have pocketed billions in unpaid claims by denying people the coverage they have paid for and small businesses and taxpayers have to make up the difference in higher health insurance costs.”
Victims whose insurance is denied often turn to Medicaid or other government health care programs to pay for the cost of their injuries. The cost of unpaid medical bills is also absorbed into everyone’s health insurance premiums. The average cost of family health insurance is now $13,000 a year and will rise to $25,000 in seven years without reform according to a new report by the New America Foundation. Requiring insurance companies to honor the policies they sell to drivers is one reform that is needed to control health care costs.
The insurance industry has averaged $30 billion a year in profits over the last ten years. Their $3.8 trillion in assets is greater than the GDP’s of all but two countries. The CEO’s of the top 10 property/casualty insurance companies earned an average $8.9 million in 2007.
“Small businesses trying to do the right thing and taxpayers should not get stuck with rising health care costs due to the greed of the automobile insurance companies. These companies should be paying the claims of those who purchased the coverage instead of shifting the cost onto the health care system where it is passed on in the form of higher health care premiums.” Thomsen concluded.
Mark Thomsen is the President of the Wisconsin Association for Justice. The Wisconsin Association for Justice stands with consumers to promote a fair and effective justice system for every citizen, not just the privileged and wealthy.