Toxic shower curtains?

June 12, 2008 4:53:07 PM PDT
Are you sick of cell phone fees? So is the chairman of the federal agency that oversees the cell phone business.

On Thursday he laid out plans to regulate early termination fees. The proposed plan would require wireless carriers to set fees based on the actual cost of the phones. So a fee for a $50 phone would be higher than a fee for a $5 phone. It would also require fees be reduced over the time of the contract. The nation's two largest wireless carriers have already started to do that.

Plastic shower curtains could be toxic, that's according to the Center for Health, Environment, and Justice. It said the products release chemicals associated with cancer and other health problems. The group is calling for the Consumer Product Safety Commission to recall and ban all polyvinyl chloride or PVC bath curtains and liners.

The group tested five house brands sold at big-box retailers. The CPSC said the claims are bizarre and the testing methodology irresponsible, poor, and fraught with problems.

If you are sensitive to the smell of new shower curtains air them outside before hanging them in your bathroom.

A report released on Thursday said states offer few protections against common abuses by health insurance companies.

The first survey of its kind was released by Families USA, a national organization for health care consumers. The group said key findings include in 44 states, insurers can revoke a policy without advance review by the state. In 20 states, insurers can set and raise premiums without meaningful oversight.

We did not hear back from the state insurance departments we contacted but a trade group for health insurance companies tells us it is taking steps to address some issues including advocating for third party review of certain decisions.

Statement from America's Health Insurance Plans:

We did a survey last December looking at premium availabilities and benefits offered in the individual health insurance market. Individual health care coverage is more accessible and affordable than widely believed. It's working for millions of consumers. However, we recognize that some individuals are falling through the cracks and we have taken steps to address those issues. Last year, our board of directors released a proposal specifically tailored toward the individual health insurance market that would guarantee that all Americans have access to health care in the individual market and that consumers would have peace of mind when purchasing individual health care coverage. Included in that is advocating for third party review of recision decisions and decisions relating to pre-existing conditions.

Statement from PA Insurance Department:

There are key issues at play here, especially in the area of small group and individual reforms - which is why the Governor, as part of the Rx for Pa plan, has proposed a series of initiatives designed to help small businesses, those details can be found at this link:
As you know, this is a national issue ? and is not unique to just Pennsylvania. Governor Rendell introduced his Prescription for Pennsylvania last year ? and since that time many important measures have been implemented to address the quality, accessibility and affordability of health care.

Statement from Marshall McKnight of the New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance:

Since the early 1990's, New Jersey individual and small group policyholders have been able to obtain coverage regardless of health condition, at rates that do not depend on health condition.

For more information:
Report on 50-State Survey of Insurance Commissioners
Families USA
AHIP (America's Health Insurance Plans)

State Insurance Depts:
New Jersey