Monday, August 31, 2009

Healthcare Inusrance Financial 'Bonanza.'

In the fight to keep our healthcare system as a single payer system, the health insurance industry have mobilized 50,000 employees to lobby Congress to defeat the public option.

That's right. We do have a form of single payer healthcare system!

For most people, the insurance companies are the only option for health insurance that we have.

And the insurance companies desperately want to kill any form of a public option. Because a public option would give the American people a choice. We all know that choice brings competition and therefore lower prices.

According to the Los Angeles Times, healthcare insurers now have the "upper hand" in dictating healthcare legislation.
Already, the health insurance industry has flexed its muscle to water down reform. After spending millions on lobbying, advertising, and direct contributions to lawmakers, the Senate Finance Committee made a major concession allowing insurers to reimburse only 65% of medical bills (down from the 76% proposed requirement).

Most group health plans cover 80% to 90% or more of a policyholder's medical bills, according to a report by the Congressional Research Service. Industry officials urged that the government set the floor lower so insurers could provide flexible, more affordable plans.
Think Progress has reported that "AHIP — the multimillion dollar lobbying juggernaut for the health insurance industry — is one of the most effective stealth lobbying firms."
AHIP’s grassroots lobbying is being managed by the corporate consulting firm Democracy Data & Communications.

Although AHIP has made grandiose promises of self regulation, many insurers have recently broke promises made by AHIP President Karen Ignagni. On June 16, despite Ignagni’s pledges of commitment, insurance executives from UnitedHealth Group, Assurant, and WellPoint specifically refused to “commit” to ending the controversial practice of rescinding coverage after an applicant files a medical claim.

With DDC’s stealth lobbying assistance, AHIP may well kill the public option too.

So what does this mean for the health insurance industry?

The half-dozen leading overhaul proposals circulating in Congress would require all citizens to have health insurance, which would guarantee insurers tens of millions of new customers -- many of whom would get government subsidies to help pay the companies' premiums.

"It's a bonanza," said Robert Laszewski, a health insurance executive for 20 years who now tracks reform legislation as president of the consulting firm Health Policy and Strategy Associates Inc.

Rep Anthony Weiner [D-NY], has succinctly stated:

To insurance company lobbyists and – from the sound of it – nearly every Republican, the public option is more a confirmation of their fear that the Obama administration is out to nationalize another industry. They argue that the public option would soon become the only option because it would have too many advantages in the marketplace.

Without acknowledging it, both sides seem to agree with the argument for a single-payer system.
But the arguments for a public option do leave you wondering why you would need or want a private insurance plan. We know that insurance companies rely on a formula to provide as little health care as possible for each dollar they take in. This isn't because they are uncaring. It is because they are good business people.

Implicit in the Democratic plan – and the Republican opposition to it – is a tacit recognition that single-payer health plans like Medicare are the best way to go.

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