News Release

Confronting Health Insurance Companies


The America’s Health Insurance Plans convention will take place later this week at San Francisco’s Moscone Center. The program features former U.S. senators John Breaux and Bill Frist, former Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson, President Bush’s former counselor Dan Bartlett and the Democratic National Committee’s former chairman Terry McAuliffe. A host of groups are protesting at the convention on Thursday, arguing that the insurance industry has blocked meaningful health care reform.

Wanning is president of the Marin County Chapter of Health Care for All — California. She said today: “It’s the insurance companies that stand between Americans and having health care that works. … The insurance companies have massive overhead — nearly one-third, spent on unnecessary costs like advertising, executive salaries and waste instead of on health care.”

Jenkins and Markowitz are both registered nurses and members of the council of presidents of the California Nurses Association. Jenkins said today: “There’s only one effective solution to solve our national health care crisis and the insurance companies’ control of our health. That is a single payer, improved Medicare for all approach, as embraced by every other industrialized country and proposed in HR 676 in Congress.”

Bunnett is on the board of the Coastal Health Alliance, a non-profit operator of local medical clinics, and is a member of Health Care for All — California. He said today: “The model for health insurance in this country is a for-profit model. The actual mission of such a model is not to provide health care, or even health insurance. It’s to make a profit. The result is what you’d expect — the U.S. ends up spending the most of any country in the world, both per capita and in total, and what we get for that is unacceptable. We spend more than wealthy countries — 16 percent of GNP (France spends about 10 percent) and we are ranked 37 in terms of actual health care outcomes, near countries like Costa Rica, which do not have nearly the resources we do.

“We do have some fantastic high-end health care — but other countries do too, without spending nearly so much. And we have 47 million uninsured, poor life expectancy and poor infant mortality levels.

“We treat health care like a property right rather than human right. Contrast this with fire protection. Everyone supports fire departments through their taxes, roughly in proportion to their income, and the fire department protects everyone equally. They don’t only come to your house if you’re a rich person. Like fire protection, health care is about protection from harm, which is a fundamental role of government.”

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167