Thursday, August 13, 2009

Haiku 081309

diners hover
while he grills ribeyes
lake mosquitos


Recently, we read the following:

Star Tribune: “Health insurers fighting overhaul plan with cash” by Pat Doyle

“As the nation faces a political showdown over health insurance reform, insurers worried that an overhaul could hurt their bottom line are funneling a wave of cash to members of Congress…

“Health and accident insurers and HMOs have spent more than $40 million on current members of Congress over the past 10 years, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, which analyzed Federal Election Commission data.

“They've also spent an additional half-billion dollars lobbying during the decade.

“Health insurers worry that a ‘public option’ favored by President Obama and House Democrats could hurt private competitors and even drive some out of business.

“Insurers find themselves ever more isolated in the national health care debate since their former allies -- the pharmaceutical and hospital industries -- have struck their own partial and tentative agreements with the White House and some Democratic members of Congress.

“U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday labeled health insurers 'villains,' saying that 'they have been a part of the problem in a major way. They are doing everything in their power to stop a public option from happening….'

“That status is deserved, said Eleanor Kinney, an Indiana University professor who has tracked health care reform and testified before Congress. Kinney said private insurers benefit hugely from tax policies that subsidize employer insurance costs and shield the insurers from often expensive claims by the elderly and poor paid by Medicaid and Medicare…”


And we thought:

…Private health insurers -- especially the giants like UnitedHealth Group, Aetna and Wellpoint -- are getting the best deals. They generally have a captive market. They can virtually dictate premium levels. When forced to pay big claims, they get back at the insureds by simply raising premiums the next time around. They can refuse applications of folks whom they decide to be potentially unprofitable. They can refuse continued coverage. Etc.

Acting in concert and with the resources they’re able to pool, these private health insurers have been able to heavily lobby members of Congress over the years to conveniently see things their way. More insidiously, they have been able to spin issues so well to make themselves appear the Luke Skywalkers, and the health care reformers, the Darth Vaders.

"Death panels"? Isn't that what the private health insurers have right now in their organizations -- groups of reviewers who decide who's going to be approved, or not, for a potentially life-saving procedure or medication regimen? What these private health insurers are doing in their current agitation-propaganda efforts is to impute to the health care reform bill all the bad stuff that they themselves are actually guilty of and have been practicing with impunity all these years.

There must be a way to break up this de facto monopoly, similar to how Ma Bell was once broken up – to allow genuine market competition at this time and hopefully bring about lower premiums and better service. How much longer can they virtually force the government and non-profits to take care of the less profitable demographic groups? How much longer will they be allowed to bleed dry the insureds and, in many cases, their employer-sponsors -- without being accountable for certain levels of service?…

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