Washington, DC – Today, Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter voted in favor of legislation that she had cosponsored to repeal the health insurance industry’s exemption from federal antitrust laws. H.R. 4626, the Health Insurance Industry Fair Competition Act, passed the House 406 to 19.
“The days of the health care industry playing by their own rules are about to end,” said Congresswoman Shea-Porter. “With health care costs continuing to skyrocket, and more Americans losing coverage each day, we must protect consumers from unethical practices like price gouging. Just last week, it was reported that the insurance companies are planning on raising individual premium rates by double-digit percentages, including here in New Hampshire. By increasing competition, this legislation will help lower costs, improve coverage, and benefit consumers.”
The Health Insurance Industry Fair Competition Act amends the McCarran-Ferguson Act by repealing the antitrust exemption health insurance companies receive. Under this bill, health insurers will be held accountable for price fixing, dividing up territories among themselves, and sabotaging competitors in order to gain a monopoly – all of which are illegal in other industries.
Approximately 95 percent of health insurance markets in the U.S. are “highly concentrated,” meaning that consumers have little to no choice in choosing an insurer. In New Hampshire, two health insurance companies control 75 percent of the market. From 2000 to 2007, health insurance premiums for New Hampshire families increased by 79%. This concentration has created monopolies in many states, and has allowed insurers to hike up costs.
The Health Insurance Industry Fair Competition Act has received broad, bipartisan support and was endorsed by leading law enforcement and consumer groups, including the National Association of Attorneys General, Consumers Union, and the Consumer Federation of America.