CHA Supports the FTC's Efforts to Crack Down on Illegal Marketing Practices

LOS ANGELES, Aug. 11 /PRNewswire/ -- The Consumer Health Alliance (CHA), whose companies provide discount health care services to more than 45 million Americans, issued the following statement in response to the Federal Trade Commission's press conference regarding enforcement efforts against fraudulent marketing of discount health care programs:

"CHA supports the FTC's efforts to eliminate fraudulent and misleading marketing of discount health care programs.  Discount health care programs provide millions of members with access to substantial savings on health care products and services.  It's important that consumers have continued access to legitimate discount programs which make health care more affordable while also being protected against fraudulent outfits that misrepresent these programs."

Discount health care programs are non-insurance programs that offer consumers direct access to health care products and services at discounted rates.  Discount health care programs are offered not just by discount companies, but by insurance companies to subscribers, counties to residents, banks to customers, non-profit organizations to members, and employers to employees.  The simplicity and value of these programs are enjoyed by millions of people in every state in the country.  CHA companies have more than 45 million participants in the U.S. today.

Discount health care programs began operating about 20 years ago, primarily to offer access at discounted rates to those ancillary health care services not typically covered by insurance plans.  Services typically included dental, pharmacy, vision, chiropractic, and hearing.  These ancillary benefits comprise about 95 percent of discount memberships.  Legitimate discount health care companies always have made clear that the access they provide to these services is not insurance.

In recent years, the skyrocketing cost of health care has made traditional health insurance increasingly unaffordable.  This instability in the market has created an opportunity for some bad actors to exploit unwitting consumers through health care schemes that promise a lot and deliver little or nothing.

Leading discount health care programs became concerned that these bad actors were going to define the discount health care industry in the minds of consumers and regulators.  To ensure that this did not happen, and to protect consumers' access to legitimate discount health care programs, these companies joined together to form CHA in 2001.  CHA is now the national trade association of discount health care programs.

CHA's mission is threefold:  first, to educate consumers and regulators about the consumer benefits of quality discount health care programs, and to give consumers the information they need to find a reputable program; second, to create a code of conduct that establishes benchmarks for well-operated, consumer-friendly programs; and third, to work with state legislatures and regulators on discount health care issues.  Unlike some trade associations which exist to defend against laws and regulations, CHA welcomes the opportunity to work with states on targeted laws and regulations that direct consumers toward legitimate programs and protect them from fraudulent ones.  In this regard, CHA has worked with legislatures and regulators in about 25 states over the last few years.  CHA also worked closely with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) on the development of its 2006 model state legislation regulating discount health care programs.  Discount programs are now regulated by 34 states.

SOURCE Consumer Health Alliance

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