Making Health Care Work

HOLDING HEALTH INSURERS ACCOUNTABLE—CALPIRG is working to make sure health insurers are providing affordable, high-quality care, and not trying to increase profits at our expense.


After years of fighting for the right policies and fighting attacks on health care reform, the state's new health insurance marketplace has opened its doors. Covered California is now offering millions of Californians new choices for health insurance.

From the beginning, CALPIRG has worked to make sure the marketplace would use the buying power of millions of Californians to aggressively push insurers for better deals, more competition and changes in how we pay for health care. The plans announced in California are expected to reduce the cost of health insurance for most individuals, while often offering better benefits.

Thanks to new CALPIRG-supported consumer protections, Californians will not be denied coverage due to pre-existing medical conditions. Prices will not vary by gender. Insurers won't be able to set lifetime maximum dollars amounts for health care, and limits on maximum out-of-pocket costs will protect Californians from medical bankruptcy. All policies sold on the marketplace must cover preventive care, prescription drugs, contraception, medical screenings (e.g., mammograms) and other essential benefits, such as pediatric, mental health, maternity and rehabilitation services.

CALPIRG is continuing to work to provide consumers with access to high-quality, affordable care.

  1. Throughout 2013 and 2014, we plan to educate half a million Californians about our new health insurance options and consumer protections, now in place thanks to the Affordable Care Act. Check out our new health insurance guide for young people.
  2. In fall 2012, we launched our Health Insurance Rate Watch project to investigate rate hikes, and to push back against the industry when those proposed hikes are unjustified. See here for a recent victory for California consumers.
  3. We are fighting the high cost of prescription drugs.
  4. We are calling on the legislature to hold health insurance companies accountable for making sure they are reining in excessive prices and unnecessary paperwork, and to give state officials the power to prohibit insurers from increasing rates if they aren't.

Learn more about our priority campaign to end the pharmaceutical industry's scheme to delay cheaper drugs from entering the market:

Issue updates

Report | CALPIRG Education Fund | Health Care

Putting America Back to Work

As the national health reform debate begins in earnest, some pundits have suggested that America cannot afford to invest in health reform. The resounding response from political and thought leaders has been that America can't afford not to. 

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Report | CALPIRG Education Fund | Health Care

More Bang for the Health Care Buck

The high cost of health care in California imposes an increasing burden on households, businesses, government, and the state’s economy – a burden made heavier by the current economic crisis.  The money that insurance companies spend on inefficient administration, billing and marketing – instead of medical care for their enrollees – contributes to the high health care costs Californians must endure.

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Report | CALPIRG Education Fund | Health Care

Paying for What Works

Our health care system is in crisis. Interrelated problems with the affordability and quality of care are undermining patient care and threatening the economic future of American families and small businesses.  This policy primer is intended to help meet that challenge. It examines seven factors which have led to the interrelated crises in cost and quality, and prescribes specific policy remedies to tame costs and restore health professionals’ ability to provide the care on which American families rely. 


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Report | CALPIRG Education Fund | Health Care

Playing by Their Own Rules

This white paper examines the rules the drug companies have set for themselves, assesses whether they comply with the minimum requirements of SB 1765, and identifies aspects of the drug company rules that are deeply problematic.

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Report | CALPIRG Education Fund | Health Care

'Tis Always the Season for Giving

Desperate to rein in skyrocketing prescription drug costs, lawmakers, healthcare plans and individual consumers are taking a much closer look at the promotional practices of the pharmaceutical industry. One aspect that has come under heavy scrutiny is a marketing technique known as detailing. This white paper examines the mechanics and potential harms of pharmaceutical detailing, describes the steps that have been taken to address those problems, and explores policy options for addressing the issue.

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We’ve got a chance to clean up the health care industry in California, but with lobbyists lining the halls of the state capitol, we need your support.

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