Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Insurance companies will benefit from Washington's plan

Not surprisingly, the Concord Monitor endorsed the Washington health care plan today saying that "everyone will gain from health reform ..." Well, technically, no, not everyone will gain from this bill because it really isn't "health reform" ... I, like many other people, want true health insurance reform and this bill is not that. I personally hope it gets killed and they start the process over again.

With all the pomp and circumstance about this bill, one things is for sure: Insurance companies are really going to benefit from this bill. Why? Because it truly doesn't contain any real cost controls, even with the minor tweaks, but it does force people to buy their for-profit insurance.

This quote from the Monitor editorial is the main problem everyone should worry about:
"By 2014, Americans will be required to buy insurance or pay a small fine if they decline unless they receive an exemption."
Any bill that forces people to buy private insurance if they don’t have it is simply unacceptable. This is corporate welfare for insurance companies. Essentially, the government is forcing people to subsidize the profits of Anthem BCBS, Harvard Pilgrim, or whatever company, whether the people can afford to or not. It’s just plain wrong. I’d rather live without insurance, thanks.

How can I say this? Throughout most of my adult life, I’ve been without insurance because it wasn’t offered by an employer or I couldn’t afford it. I know what it is like. I dealt with sports injuries, colds and flu, at least other major problem, all by myself. When I lost my job in 2007, we couldn’t afford the Anthem plans, even after I got a new job. So I canceled my part of the plan for four months so my wife and son could have coverage and hoped for the best until my employer plan kicked in to cover all of us. Today, if I lost my health care and was forced by the government to buy it out of pocket, it would be about $1,200 a month for the four of us, on the cheapest plan available right now in New Hampshire, with thousands and thousands in deductibles. We would have to buy this plan or face fines and penalties. What a choice, huh?

Before people just blindly accept this bill, or anything, do the research for yourself. Go find out what private market insurance is right now and then, figure out how you'd pay for health care if you lost your employer insurance tomorrow and were forced to buy a plan. Most folks can't afford the private insurance now. They aren't going to be able to afford it when they are forced to buy it because there are no cost or profit controls at all. And yet the government is going to force them to buy it!

And before folks go on about how this is the same as car insurance, it's not. And, in New Hampshire, you don't have to buy car insurance if you don't want to (although that is a mistake). Car insurance is a fraction of the cost of health insurance. It's not an equal comparison.

Also understand that the plan being proposed in Washington is very similar to the plan in Massachusetts, RomneyCare, if you will, and you can see how that is going. It's a disaster - price fixing by the insurance companies, the government not regulating profits so it can't control costs, some people falling through the cracks, etc. Read the headlines in the Massachusetts newspapers. It's a disaster. This is what will happen on a national scale. In other words, it's not going to work.

There is a simpler solution for helping those people who don't have insurance or can't afford insurance: Allow them to buy into Medicare with a payroll tax like Bernie Sander’s bill proposes only on a smaller scale. Gee, that was easy, everyone covered. Wow.

After that, the Congress should propose regulatory changes - like the proposals lumped into this bill - and vote on them one at a time, instead of one behemoth bill. This will allow true bi-partisanship and fix the problems.

Do this, and the Congress will actually reform health insurance and not screw it all up.

1 comment:

Stephen said...

Bill Moyer's Journal (March 5th, 2010 available on itunes podcasts) offers a healthy debate not seen in most of the media. I, like you, have gone without health care most of my life. Any government mandate to force coverage on the poor without assistance or exemptions, especially when health care costs are rising, would defeat the very purpose of health care reform. The bottom line is the same...the only way to reduce health care costs to consumers is to reduce profits for health insurers. Obama has got to present a plan that is willing to take on the insurers...you can NOT negotiate with them. It is akin to the appeasement of Neville Chamberlain to Hitler. Let's hope he has the will. I have not seen the final language but it seems to me that decisions are going to be made on this bill without seeing the final bill and to much is going to be given away to the health insurers. It may be better to just go after things like the pre-existing condition rule and leave it at that rather than pass a bad bill.