View Header


Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release September 20, 1993


Health Care That's Always There

Every American citizen will receive a Health Security Card that guarantees you a comprehensive package of benefits that can never be taken away.

Guaranteeing comprehensive benefits that can never be taken away. Controlling health care costs for consumers, business and our nation. Improving the quality of American health care. Increasing choices for consumers. Reducing paperwork and simplifying the system. Making everyone responsible for health care. These are the principles of the Health Security Act of 1993 and they are not negotiable.

In America, rights and responsibilities go hand-in-hand. We will ask everybody to pay something, even if your contribution is small. Everyone must assume responsibility. No one should get a free ride.

Most important, we're going to offer new opportunities and new incentives for people to stay healthy -- and to treat small problems before they become big ones. Our goal should be to keep people healthy, not treat them after they become sick.

What's Wrong With the Current System

The things that are wrong with our health care system are threatening everything that's right with American health care.

The Health Security Plan

Every American citizen and legal resident will receive a Health Security Card. Once you get your card, you can never lose your health coverage -- no matter what. If you get sick, you're covered. If you change jobs, you're covered. If you lose your job, you're covered. If you move, you're covered. If you have the courage to start a small business, you're covered.

Your Health Security card guarantees you a comprehensive package of benefits that can never be taken away. The package is as comprehensive as the ones that many Fortune 500 companies offer their employees. And in critical ways -- like paying for preventive care and prescription drugs -- the package gives you more than big companies provide today.

You will be able to choose your doctor. Everyone will have a choice of health plans. You'll be able to follow your doctors and nurses into a traditional fee-for-service plan, join a network of doctors and hospitals, or join an HMO. Your boss or insurance company won't decide how or where or from whom you get your care -- you will.

Almost everybody will be able to sign up for a health plan at work, like you do today. You'll get brochures that give you easy-to-understand information on several health plans -- which doctors and hospitals are included, an evaluation of the quality of care, a consumer satisfaction survey, and prices. If you're self-employed or unemployed, you can sign up at your area health alliance, which will be run by consumers and businesses and bargain for affordable health care for you.

The federal government will set up a national health board -- a board of directors to set standards and make sure you get the comprehensive benefits and quality care you deserve. State governments will set up health alliances give consumers and small businesses the power to buy affordable care; and the businesses with 5,000 or more employees will be allowed to operate as "corporate alliances."

Insurance companies will be required to use a single claim form to replace the thousands of different forms they have today. So when you get sick, you won't be buried in forms -- and neither will your nurse, your doctor or your hospital.

That's what the Health Security Act is all about.

Principle #1:
Security: Giving you health care that's always there. _

Over the next two years, one of every four of us will lose health coverage for some time. The Clinton plan guarantees that you will never lose your insurance -- no matter what. Here's how the plan guarantees security:

Principle #2:
Comprehensive benefits: Keeping you healthy. All Americans will receive a Health Security card that guarantees you a benefits package that is as comprehensive as those offered by most Fortune 500 companies...and then some.

Emphasizes preventive care. The comprehensive benefits package goes beyond virtually all current insurance plans by covering a wide range of preventive services, including mammograms, Pap smears, and immunizations, at no charge to you. It puts a new emphasis on helping you stay healthy, rather than waiting until they get sick. Prevention saves money and improves people's health.

Includes prescription drugs. Many insurance companies and Medicare have failed to cover prescription drugs. But drug costs are breaking family budgets, forcing many older Americans to choose between food and medicine. Health insurance should cover prescription drugs. The Health Security plan does.

All Americans will be guaranteed coverage of :

Principle #3:
Savings: Controlling health care costs.

Here's how the Health Security Act will control health care costs:

Limits how much insurance companies can raise your premium. Insurance companies will no longer be able to raise your premiums as they please. Today, insurance companies hike your premiums -- sometimes at several times the rate of inflation -- if you get sick, if someone in your family gets sick, and for any other reason.

Introduces competition to the health care marketplace. The Health Security plan will release the chokehold that in today's system, insurance companies have on all of us -- consumers, nurses, doctors, and businesses. Reform will encourage competition -- forcing costs down as health plans compete by offering high-quality care at an affordable price.

Cracks down on fraud. The health security proposal makes health-care fraud a crime and imposes stiff penalties on those who cheat the system. It prohibits doctors from referring patients to outside facilities, like labs, which they own a piece of. It stops the kickbacks that some laboratories give doctors in an effort to get their business.

Asks the drug companies to hold down prescription drug prices. The Health Security plan asks drug companies to take responsibility for keeping prices down, without setting prices. In today's system, overcharging runs rampant --certain prescription drugs cost Americans three times more than people pay in other industrialized countries.

Reduces paperwork. All health plans will adopt a single, standard claims form by Jan. 1, 1995. Along with other measures to streamline the system and free nurses and doctors from excess bureaucracy, this will reduce paperwork, cut red tape, and save money.

Squeezes the waste out of Medicare and Medicaid. By slowing the growth of these government programs, the proposal uses funds that have been wasted on excessive charges and funnels them into comprehensive benefits. Under reform, Medicare will be expanded to cover prescription drugs, and there will be a new long-term care program to help cover home- and community-based care. Today, Medicare and Medicaid spending keeps going up and up. But the elderly and poor aren't getting any extra benefits. Health security will change that.

Principle #4:
Quality: Making the world's best care better.

Emphasizes preventive care. The Health Security plan puts a new emphasis on preventing illness before it becomes a medical crisis. Prevention will improve the quality of care by helping people stay healthy rather than treating them after they get sick. The benefits package fully pays for a wide range of preventive services; the vast majority of today's insurance plans don't cover a penny.

Gives consumers the power to judge the quality of care. Consumers will receive quality "report cards" that provide information on the performance of health care plans and patient satisfaction. These report cards will hold health plans accountable for meeting high standards. The National Quality Program will help states share information on health plan performance.

Reforms malpractice. The President's proposal will limit lawyers' fees in order to discourage frivolous medical malpractice lawsuits. It will also encourage patients and doctors to use alternative forms of dispute resolution before they end up in court. This will help eliminate the "defensive medicine" that drives up costs and hurts quality -- doctors ordering extra tests because they fear lawyers looking over their shoulders.

Encourages cooperation in rural and urban areas. Rural residents will have access to the latest technology and emergency services through telecommunications links set up between local doctors and advanced networks of specialists and hospitals. In urban areas, the plan will increase investment in public hospitals and community health centers.

Provides incentives for more family doctors to practice in rural and urban areas. The health security plan will give financial breaks to doctors and nurses who work in underserved rural and urban areas. It will expand the National Health Service Corps. Two of three rural counties today do not have enough doctors and 111 rural counties have no physician at all.

Increases funding for prevention research. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) will expand research in areas like children's health, and health and wellness promotion. Preventive care keeps people healthier and saves money at the same time.

Promotes research on the effectiveness of treatments. Today, a lack of information about the most cost-effective methods of treatment often leads to expensive defensive medicine and wide variation in treatments and costs. The plan's investments in research into what treatments really work will help improve the quality of care.

Principle #5:
Choice: Preserving and increasing what you have today.

Preserves your right to choose your doctor. The proposal ensures that you can follow your doctor and his or her team to any plan they might join. Today, more and more employers are forcing their employees into plans that restrict your choice of doctor. After reform, your boss or insurance company won't choose your doctor or health plan -- you will.

Increases your choice of health plan. You will be able to choose from among all the health plans offered in your area -- no matter where you work. Only one of every three companies with fewer than 500 employees offer any choice of health plan. After reform, every employee will be able to choose a health plan.

Puts consumers in the driver's seat. The Health Security Act brings competition to health care -- unleashing the market forces that will lower costs and improve quality. Giving small businesses and consumers the power to band together in alliances will level the playing field and give them the same bargaining strength as big businesses.

Increases options for long-term care. The President's proposal will make it possible for more Americans to continue to live in their homes and communities while receiving care. Today too many families are split apart when insurance or federal programs only pay for hospital coverage. The plan will help put an end to this situation and give families the options they deserve.

Principle #6:
Simplicity: Reducing paperwork and cutting red tape.

Gives everyone a Health Security Card. The card -- with full protection for privacy and confidentiality -- will allow for electronic billing and the creation of health care information networks. This will reduce paperwork and simplify the system.

Requires insurance companies to use a single claim form. The Health Security Act will reduce the insurance company red tape that forces doctors and patients to spend their time filling out forms and fighting bureaucrats. All health plans will adopt a single, standard claims form by Jan. 1, 1995. It will enable doctors and nurses to spend more time taking care of you -- and less time wrestling with paper.

Eliminates fine print. Everyone will get a comprehensive benefits package -- and what you get will be spelled out in easy-to understand language. If you get sick, insurance companies won't be able to point to fine print and deny you the coverage you've paid for.

Streamlines billing reimbursement for doctors, nurses and hospitals. The comprehensive benefits package, a standard rules and codes for payment, and elimination of excessive government regulations will reduce confusion. Doctors, nurses, and hospitals will have more time to care for patients; and all of us will benefit.

Removes the burden on business of negotiating insurance. Groups of businesses and consumers -- regional health alliances -- will negotiate for high-quality care at affordable prices. This will simplify today's system, where hundreds of thousands of businesses negotiate with more than 1500 insurance companies. The burden of finding insurance will be lifted -- and so will administrative costs -- which can run as high as 40% of total health costs for small business.


The financing proposal was developed under the most rigorous and conservative forecasting standards. For the first time, representatives from every federal agency involved in fiscal accounting and financial projections have been brought together to work out the numbers. Then teams of actuaries, health economists and other financial analysts from outside the government served as auditors and consultants, checking and rechecking.

The system is financed from five major sources:

  1. Employer and employee contributions -- Everyone will pay a portion of health insurance premiums, even if your contribution is small, because everyone must assume responsibility. Today, the overwhelming majority of employers cover their employees, and they'll continue to do so. But the businesses that provide insurance are paying for those who don't. No one should get a free ride.
  2. Medicare and Medicaid savings -- Specific savings can be achieved by slowing the rate of growth of these programs. Every penny of these savings will be channeled back into benefits -- prescription drugs and long-term care -- for the people which these programs serve.
  3. "Uncompensated care." -- Savings can be achieved from money now paid to hospitals and doctors who care for people who can't afford care but receive it anyway and the uninsured.
  4. Sin taxes and other federal revenues -- There will be some new "sin taxes," and other revenues will be added as health care costs slow, less money is spent, and the difference is no longer tax-deductible.
  5. Other savings -- Reducing paperwork and administration -- estimated to cost $100 billion or more a year -- will cut bureaucracy and save money. Cracking down on health care fraud -- estimated to be at least $80 billion annually -- and imposing new stiff penalties will also yield savings.


As a rule, most individuals and families in which at least one person works will pay a maximum of 20% of the average health plan premium in their area. Those who choose a lower cost plan -- from among those offered in the area -- will pay a little less than the 20% average. Those who choose a more expensive plan will pay a little more, as they do today.Employers who currently pay 100% of health benefits may continue to do so.

Two parent family with children: Two parent families with children -- whether one or both parents work -- pay a maximum of 20% of the family premium offered by the average plan in their area. If both parents work, they choose how to pay their family's share. They can have the share deducted monthly out of either paycheck or write a check to the local alliance.

Couple: Working married couples -- whether one or both spouses work -- pay a maximum of 20 percent of the average plan premium. They can have the share deducted monthly from either paycheck or write a check to the local alliance.

Single-parent family: Working single parents with children pay a maximum of 20 % of the average plan premium for a single parent policy.

Individual: Working single people pay a maximum of 20% of the average premium for an individual policy in their area.

Part-time worker with no unearned income: Part-time workers pay a maximum of 20% of the average plan premium for their policy type in their area.


Exceptions are provided for: (1) the self-employed and independent contractors; (2) part-time workers who have unearned income; (3) families with incomes below 150% of the poverty level; and (4) seasonal workers.

Self-employed/independent contractors: The self-employed and individual contractors can deduct from their taxes 100% of their health care costs. As with any small business, they pay the employer share. They also pay an individual share. If a firm earns less than $24,000 a year, it is eligible for subsidies.

Part-time workers with unearned income: Part-time workers with unearned income pay a maximum of 20% of the average plan premium for their policy type -- individual, couple, two parent, or single parent family. The number of hours someone works determines how much of the premium is paid by the employer and how much by the individual. For example, an employer would pay 40% of the premium for someone who works half-time. Payment of the remaining 40% of the premium depends on how much a person makes in unearned income, with subsidies provided on a sliding scale for those whose incomes are below 250% of the poverty level.

Families with incomes below 150% of the poverty level: Families at this level are eligible for discounted premiums and pay a maximum of 20% of the employee's share of the average plan premium. This applies to individuals making $10,455 annually; couples with incomes of $14,145; families of three earning $17,835; and families of four with incomes of $21,525.

Seasonal workers: Seasonal workers pay a maximum of 20% of the average plan premium in the area where they reside.. Those whose incomes are 150% of the poverty level or below are eligible for discounted premiums. If they have unearned income and are not working, seasonal workers are treated the same as part-time workers.

Unemployed and non-working: Unemployed individuals and heads of household who make less than 150% of the poverty level are eligible for individual subsidies on a sliding scale. Those with unearned income pay all or part of what would normally be the employer's share of the premium.

Those whose incomes are 250% of the poverty level or less -- pensioners, for example -- are eligible for discounts on what would be the employer's share. They are not eligible for individual subsidies, and pay the normal individual share of the health premium.