Congressman Phil Hare (D-IL) today voted for the Health Insurance Industry Fair Competition Act, legislation he cosponsored that would end the unfair anti-trust protection for the health insurance industry.
"There are only two industries in the nation that are not covered by federal anti-trust laws--Major League Baseball and health insurance companies," Hare said. "And while baseball is certainly important to many people, access to affordable health care is a matter of life and death. With industry profits soaring and premiums skyrocketing out of control for too many families, creating a fairer insurance market is absolutely essential."
This bill amends the McCarran-Ferguson Act by repealing the blanket anti-trust exemption afforded to health insurance companies. Under the bill, health insurers will no longer be shielded from legal accountability for: price fixing, dividing up territories among themselves, sabotaging their competitors in order to gain monopoly power, and other such anti-competitive practices. In Illinois, two insurance companies control 69 percent of the market.
Removing this exemption will give health insurance companies incentives to promote better affordability, improved quality, increased innovation, and greater consumer choice. "When an insurance company has a market unfairly or artificially cornered, it doesn't have to compete for its policyholders," Hare said. "In those cases, consumers are forced to take what the insurance company gives them or go without health care. This is anti-competitive, anti-American, and cannot be allowed to stand for any longer."
Last year, the five largest health insurance companies saw its profits rise by 56 percent. Hare has been a strong proponent of placing stronger regulations on this industry. Proposals he supports include: ending preexisting conditions, preventing policies from being unfairly or arbitrarily dropped, and creating a public option to compete directly with private insurers.