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Study Finds Lack of Consumer Protections in Private Insurance Market

By Elana Gordon


Kansas City, MO – A recent study by the consumer advocacy group, Families USA, found that the majority of states, including Kansas and Missouri, don't require insurers to sell individual coverage to all of its applicants. Most states also don't prohibit insurance companies from charging individuals higher premiums based on their health status. Dan Smith of the American Cancer society says that makes individual health coverage difficult to obtain, especially for those most in need of medical care.

Smith: Consumers with preexisting conditions, like cancer and other medical problems, can be denied coverage completely, they could be charged extraordinarily high premiums.

Spokesperson for the Missouri Insurance Department, Emily Kampeter, also says the study shows that the current regulatory system is not set up to look after individual health insurance providers.

Kampeter: Currently our nation and our State revolve around a system in which an employer provides health benefits, and there are several protections in place when it comes to group coverage, however individual coverage is not the same.

About 1 in 10 Missourians and about 3 in 10 Kansans have private individual health insurance. The recent study surveyed all 50 state insurance departments.

Funding for health care coverage on KCUR has been provided by the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City.

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