HIAA Board Approves "InsureUSA" Initiative For The
May 21, 1999
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1999 10am ET
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Health Insurance Association of
America (HIAA) today announced that its Board of Directors has
approved "InsureUSA," an initiative, if enacted by the federal and
state governments, that would provide coverage for millions of
Americans who currently lack health insurance.
HIAA’s InsureUSA initiative calls for financial support to
provide coverage for low-income Americans and the working poor,
access to coverage for people in poor health, and tax relief that
would allow individuals and businesses to better afford the cost of
HIAA also released a new public opinion survey showing that more
than 4 out of 5 Americans support the elements of the InsureUSA
proposal, and that 7 out of 10 believe the large number of uninsured
Americans is a significant national problem requiring immediate
"Every American ought to be concerned that more than 43 million
people lack health insurance," commented Leonard D. Schaeffer,
HIAA’s Chairman of the Board and Chairman and Chief Executive
Officer of WellPoint Health Networks (Thousand Oaks, CA).
"Increasing the number of Americans with health coverage ought to be
the top national health care priority. If action is not taken,
within the decade, nearly 1 out of 4 people below age 65 will go
without health insurance."
"The time to act is now," added HIAA President Chip Kahn.
"Americans want action to reduce the number of uninsured. Also,
there is broad support for HIAA’s proposal because it would make the
cost of coverage more affordable for millions of uninsured
HIAA’s InsureUSA proposal calls for extending coverage to the
poorest Americans with incomes below 100 percent of poverty who are
not eligible for current programs. It further calls for vouchers set
at 75 percent of the government payments for the Federal Employee
Health Benefits Program ("FEHBP"). These vouchers would help people
with incomes between 101 percent and 200 percent of the federal
poverty level to purchase private health insurance.
The federal poverty level is $8,480 a year for individuals and
$16,530 a year for a family of four. According to HIAA data, 57
percent of uninsured Americans have incomes that are less than twice
the federal poverty level.
Enhanced tax incentives in the InsureUSA proposal would extend
tax credits to small employers who buy health insurance and allow
employees who work for small firms to exclude contributions toward
premiums from their taxable income. Additionally, the self-employed
and individuals without access to employer-sponsored coverage could
take an immediate 100 percent deduction for the cost of their health
insurance premiums. HIAA estimates that its InsureUSA initiative
would provide health coverage to up to 28 million now uninsured
Americans, and make coverage more affordable for tens of millions of
Americans who have insurance, at an average annual cost of roughly
HIAA is the nation’s most prominent trade association
representing the nation’s private health care system. Its 269
members provide health, long-term care, disability, and supplemental
coverage to more than 115 million Americans.
NOTE TO MEDIA: HIAA’s InsureUSA proposal and survey data are
available on the InsureUSA website at http://www.insureusa.org/.