Talks about addressing the important issues needing to be addressed at both state and federal levels..BD

Nearly 48 million Americans are without health insurance, according to government officials, who note that many of those who do have coverage are still struggling to get the basic care they need. Stating that fighting for medical benefits, while keeping up with the rising cost of health insurance premiums and prescription drugs, is putting a toll on the young and old alike, local representatives recently offered some insights into the problems of healthcare in America,and what can be done to fix the system.

"Up until 1996, the health insurance industry was regulated by the state," Alessi explained, noting that insurance companies needed to prove to the NYS Insurance Department that rate hikes were needed before they could raise premiums. "When [former NYS] Governor [George] Pataki took that power away in 1996, that's when we started seeing double-digit increases in premiums. For HMOs statewide, their profit margin increased by 95% while losing 14% of their clients.

"I believe HMOs deserve a profit," Alessi added, "but when we're dealing with services that are vital, we have to make sure the profits are not so excessive that it becomes inaccessible to the general public."

"Drug companies spend more money advertising products than Budweiser does advertising beer," noted US Congressman Steve Israel (D-Hauppauge). "And [consumers] can't even buy [the drugs] directly; they've got to get a doctor to prescribe it."

Suffolk Life Newspapers - Health Insurance: Satisfaction Not Guaranteed?


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