ACS CAN Expert Testifies on Impact of Interstate Health Insurance Sales on Cancer Patients and Survivors

May 25, 2011

House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee Hearing Examines Proposal to Allow Insurance Sales Across State Lines
WASHINGTON, D.C. – May 25, 2011 – The high cost of health insurance will not be automatically remedied by increased competition and decreased regulation, factors that could create barriers to comprehensive coverage for patients with chronic disease such as cancer, testified Stephen Finan, senior director of policy for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), before the House Energy and Commerce health subcommittee today.

At the hearing, which focused on the feasibility of interstate insurance sales as a means to decrease coverage costs, Finan testified that lack of consumer and patient protections has historically led to inadequate or unaffordable coverage for cancer patients. The Affordable Care Act puts strong patient protections in place to ensure access to adequate and affordable insurance. Finan said it is important to make sure that legislation permitting sales across state lines contains those same protections. 

“From a consumer perspective, interstate sales offer the theoretical potential of greater choice and lower prices,” Finan said. “However, to work in practice, interstate sales must be built on a foundation that prevents predatory and unfair practices, with strong consumer rights and enforcement protections firmly in place.”

Finan acknowledged that the competitive pressures of unregulated interstate sales would almost certainly force some insurers to “cherry-pick” low-risk, less expensive consumers.  If those insurers only cover lower risk individuals, the remaining insurers will be left with pools that are disproportionately expensive to cover compared to their competitors.  No insurer could survive long with such insurance pools – leaving patients who need care the most without meaningful coverage options.

“Interstate sales without adequate consumer protections and safeguards could easily become a debacle with grave consequences for our nation’s health and well-being,” said Finan, who is also a consumer representative to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.  “The relatively young and healthy could realize lower health insurance premiums, but the consequence would be foreclosure of access to or affordability of coverage for those with serious medical conditions.”

ACS CAN, the nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate of the American Cancer Society, supports evidence-based policy and legislative solutions designed to eliminate cancer as a major health problem. ACS CAN works to encourage elected officials and candidates to make cancer a top national priority. ACS CAN gives ordinary people extraordinary power to fight cancer with the training and tools they need to make their voices heard. For more information, visit

Alissa Havens or Steven Weiss
American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network
Phone: (202) 661-5772 or (202) 661-5711
Email: [email protected] or [email protected]

#cancer #ACA #healthcare #ACSCAN #insurance 

More Press Releases AboutAccess to Health Care