PoliTuesday: Health Insurance Reform

Why is it that health insurance companies will spend any amount of money on marketing and lobbying to avoid spending more money on patients and doctors?

The reforms being discussed in Congress right now are not helath care reforms, they are health insurance reforms. Every year, health insurance companies are charging us more and more and the amount they are paying out in return is getting smaller and smaller as they find new ways to rescind policies and disallow certain medications and treatments.

The main reason for this is, of course, the economy. Up until the year 2000, insurance companies could invest the money from our premiums and make a profit even if they were paying all of that money back to us eventually. When the stock market tanked in 2000, it took insurance company profits with it, and every year since then they've had to try to make a profit the old-fashioned way, by actually paying attention to their business.

This means squeezing more profitability from their customers, and their tactics are skirting so close to the line dividing ethical from unethical that they might as well give up and admit they have become evil. Something has to be done, and only the Democratic party is willing to say it and stand up to the insurance companies and their armies of lobbyists and astroturfers. The Republican party has not only decided to block any changes, but to do so "at any cost", sacrificing even the last shreds of their honesty by creating and spreading lies about the reforms that are being discussed. Lies that have become so extreme, they are angering entire other countries.

The way I see it, the reforms that are being discussed are intended to create natural competitive forces that oppose the insurance market's slide to the lowest end of the pool. The only alternatives are to stick with the horrible system we have now (that's first in per capita spending, but only 38th in quality of care), or some heavy regulation that ends abusive practices with the force of law.

2009.08.18 at 8:00pm EDT