Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Health care

Fifty million Americans are unable to buy health insurance and premiums have doubled over the past decade.

Really? Fifty million Americans are UNABLE to buy health insurance? What does that mean? That absolutely NO health insurance company will sell them insurance or that they can not purchase health insurance at a price they are willing to pay? Of those 50 million Americans that are UNABLE to buy health insurance, how many have cell phones, cable, direct TV, more than 1 car, their own home (or more)? That question never seems to get asked. It is always presented as a hard stop in the debate. Unable to buy health insurance, period. I am sure that there are some people that truly can not afford health insurance at any price based on a set of pre-existing conditions and/or other catastrophic financial situations but I do not think that this core set is anything close to 50 million.

On Saturday, President Barack Obama denounced two new studies, sponsored by the health insurance industry, which found that current health care reform bills in Congress will increase premium prices for consumers. One study, done for the lobbying group America’s Health Insurance Plans by the consultancy PriceWaterhouseCoopers, found that the provisions in the Senate bill sponsored by Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) would add $1,700 a year to the cost of family coverage in 2013 and $600 for a single person. By 2019, family premiums could be $4,000 higher and individual premiums could be $1,500 higher. A weak individual coverage mandate, coupled with a guarantee issue requirement, no preexisting condition limits, and no rating based on health status would significantly boost insurance premiums.

No kidding! Tell any reasonably intelligent person that you want to purpose new insurance rules that include a) individual coverage mandate, b) a guarantee issue requirement, c) no preexisting condition limits, and d) no rating based on health status but premiums will stay exactly the same and they should question your sanity. Give me a whole lot more but don't charge me any more for it. Fat chance that will work out. Does Pres. Obama still think that anyone takes him seriously on health care when he denounced a "common sense" study result like this? Even Blue Cross / Blue Shield is on the other side of this issue.

The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association commissioned a new study by the Oliver Wyman consultancy which also found that guaranteed issue and community rating mandates coupled with a weak individual mandate would drive up premiums by 50 percent for individual policies and 19 percent for small group plans.

And what is the presidents substantive rebuttal to these studies?

“Every time we get close to passing reform, the insurance companies produce these phony studies as a prescription and say, ‘Take one of these, and call us in a decade,’" declared the president. “Well, not this time.”

Well if wishes were kisses, I would be the happiest man in the world too but that don't make it so.

What about those insurance company profits? Back in July, President Obama asserted that health insurance companies are making “record profits.” Not really. The Annenberg Public Policy Center’s reported, “In general, the health insurance industry did poorly toward the end of 2008 and in the first quarter of 2009, so record profits weren’t likely in the second quarter.” Averaging profits of 3.3 percent, health insurers are the 86th most profitable industry in the U.S., well behind chain restaurants (7.7 percent), electric utilities (6.2 percent), and brewers (18 percent), but ahead of major auto manufacturers (-3.3 percent), resorts and casinos (-8.9 percent), and major airlines (-11 percent).

Anyway. so what with what profits an insurance company makes? If this were a true free enterprise system and was not so strangled by existing government red-tape, insurance companies would be free to work country wide. Would be free to setup risk pools and be free to do other things that would increase competition and reduce costs to consumers. Problem is that is not what the government wants. Instead of taking a working plan from (I don't know, lets say) Whole Foods, they instead take a proven disaster of a plan from England. What? You did not know that England's health care plan was a disaster? If it is so good, why has the NHS recently been paying for private health insurance for 3000 or so employees so that these employees did not have to make use of the existing health system? If this new direction in health care is so good, why has congress done all that it can to exempt its self from Obamacare?

In typical Democrat/liberal fashion, the government has been standing on the throat of an industry and then decry when that industry does not run smoothly and instead of getting off, impose additional constraints. This is just another power grab by the government and nothing more.

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