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Saturday, March 6, 2010

Comments on "Health Care Reform"

Last week I posted this comment on The Agonist:

I am on record here (and elsewhere) predicting that a bill would get passed…, and that the only sure thing about it would be mandatory “insurance” coverage. I thought for a brief moment that I would have to admit that I was wrong…, it was barely on life-support. But it didn’t take the insurance companies long to swing into action…, raising rates. Now…, if they really didn’t want any bill passed they would have laid in the weeds waiting until it was completely dead…, but they didn’t…, they rose up and virtually shouted out load, “You need to pass some kind of bill NOW…, or look what’s going to continue to happen!” And The Big O stood right up with them (coincidence?)…, calling a summit…, promising “bipartisan” (compromise?) support for a new health “care” reform bill.

What we need is a health “insurance” reform bill…, not a health “care” reform bill.
The Big O is going to deliver for the insurance companies (mandatory insurance coverage & no competition)…, and the insurance companies are going to keep the premium increases…, and there won’t be much (if any) insurance reform in it.

I agree…, there is still “hope” that he will take a stand and deliver something meaningful…, or let it die…, but I am not holding my breath.

Scott R. February 28, 2010 - 11:02am

Last night on PBS, Bill Moyers asked as much of one of his guests.

BILL MOYERS: Excuse my growing cynicism at this age and stage, but could this be the briar patch strategy? In other words, they want to get people angry enough to– for Congress to pass that health care reform with the mandate that delivers millions of new customers to them under penalty of law?

The guest, Wendell Potter didn’t answer that question directly, but he believes that the bill should be passed because there are enough good things in it (at least the Senate version) to offset the “mandated coverage” requirement. Things like requiring the insurance companies to cover “pre-existing conditions”. My question is, will they be required to cover people with “existing conditions”…, and what’s the difference? He says there are meaningful regulations…, I say those will be eliminated or watered down in the bill that gets passed. And I say again…, a bill will get passed.

The next guest, Marcia Angell takes the position that there isn’t enough good in the bill, even if it isn’t watered down, to make it worth passing. And she echoes what I said above.

MARCIA ANGELL: It’s not lack of health insurance. It’s lack of health care. There is a difference between health insurance and health care. You can have insurance offered that is too expensive to buy or too expensive to use. What good does it do? And what happens when this occurs, is that what you see is instead of improvements, look at my state of Massachusetts.

So if you look at what’s causing the problem, the causes are not being targeted in this plan. They’re not being addressed. Maybe some of the symptoms of the causes are being addressed like let’s stop excluding people from pre-existing conditions. But it doesn’t stop the insurance industry from raising its premiums.…And what do you think they’re going to do? If you were an insurance company, you would say, “Well, thank you, Santa Claus. I’ve got all of these captive customers. Young ones are healthy. They probably won’t even use the insurance. There’s nothing to stop me from raising my premiums. I have all of these subsidies coming in.” Don’t you think that the prices would go up? I think it would be remarkable if they didn’t.

When I look at the Senate bill and the President’s suggestions, almost every paragraph, there is a poison pill for someone. I think sometimes they’re unintended. Let me give you one example. They allow for insurance companies to charge three times as much for older people as for younger people.

So from the point of view of the insurance industry, this is a god-send because either way, they win. Either the 55-year-olds cough up three times the premiums, and that’s good. Or else they can’t, and that’s probably the more likely situation. They can’t, and then they’re fined. And the insurance companies don’t have to take care of people who might actually get sick. They’re left with all of the thirty-year-olds, who are less likely to get sick, but who are required to buy their products.

So this sets up a situation which probably all plans, for 55-year-olds, are high priced. So they can’t afford to buy it, or if they do buy it, they have to pay an excise tax on it. This is a real poison pill for these older people. It’s a gift for the insurance industry.

Well worth the read…, or the watch.

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