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News Release

Labor Secretary Elaine L. Chao Calls on Congress to Pass Association Health Plan Legislation

Census Shows Number of Uninsured Americans on the Rise

Archived News Release — Caution: Information may be out of date.


WASHINGTON—U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao today called on Congress to pass Association Health Plan legislation to help the increasing number of uninsured Americans gain access to health insurance. The Commerce Department’s Census Bureau released numbers today showing the number of uninsured rising by 1.4 million to 41.2 million people.

“With the new data showing an increasing number of uninsured Americans, Congress has an immediate opportunity to increase access to quality, affordable health insurance,” said Chao. “Health care costs are continuing to rise sharply across the United States, and more employers and employees are sharing the burden of increased premiums.”

“Unfortunately, as premiums increase, the ranks of the uninsured will continue to increase. In light of these alarming facts, it is crucial that the Senate pass legislation establishing Association Health Plans. These plans are essential to the President’s proposal to increase access to health care and are strongly supported by a bipartisan majority of the House of Representatives,” said Chao.

Association Health Plans would provide small businesses the same purchasing power and federal regulatory structure afforded large employers and Taft-Hartley union plans. By allowing small businesses to join together through trade associations, employers will enjoy greater bargaining power, economies of scale, and administrative efficiencies.

According to the recently released Department of Labor report on Association Health Plans, only 24% of small businesses that employ low-wage workers offer health benefits, compared to 88% of their large business counterparts. Association Health Plans would also provide small businesses and their workers access to health insurance that is less expensive, with expected savings of up to 13%.

“Association Health Plans would equalize the playing field for small businesses, but more importantly, would result in health insurance coverage for millions of uninsured workers and their families,” said Chao.

For a copy of the Labor Department’s report on Association Health Plans, link to or call 1-866-275-7922.

Archived News Release — Caution: Information may be out of date.

Employee Benefits Security Administration
September 27, 2002
Release Number