Sunday, October 18, 2015

I'm tired of being the bug. I wanna be the windshield!


A modern day "Tale of Two Cities"....the number of "health insurance co-ops" set up to enroll people in the ACA program, aka Obamacare, is declining by two more due to financial underperformance, leaving only 15 of the original 23 still in business.  Meanwhile four of the giant health insurers are merging to become even more "giant-er".  

As the photo headline above says, Aetna is buying Humana, and Anthem (Blue Cross) is buying Cigna.  The combined Aetna-Humana will insure 33 million people, and Anthem-Cigna will insure 53 million people.  The current top insurer, UnitedHealthcare, insures 49 million people. (FYI, those three insurers will have a combined revenue of $448 BILLION per year.)

From what I have read (and if anyone inside the medical/insurance field has other information I'd like to hear it), far-and-away the BIG winners in the Obamacare health care reform movement are the health insurers.  Early on the Democrats who pushed for Obamacare enlisted the health insurers support, promising them millions of predominantly young, mostly healthy, new clients....in other words, lots of new income, with little additional expense.  CHA-CHING!

Here's what it comes down to:  the health insurers are making money hand-over-fist, with numbers few of us can even imagine.  They have to invest their profits somewhere (they don't pay it all out in dividends), and they have found that there is no place more profitable to put their cash than in....themselves!

“When big [companies] like this join forces rather than compete, it’s always a worry in terms of choice,” said Betsy Imholz, special projects director for Consumer Reports. “History has generally taught us when there’s greater concentration of health insurers, premiums are higher. Companies say there are greater efficiencies, but I’ve never seen that passed along to consumers.”

“We really do need the regulators to be watching out for consumers in this because there’s not too much consumers can do” about it, she said. 

What?  Regulators watching out for consumers?  ROFLMAO!  Maybe in the old days, but now regulators are controlled by the politicians who appoint them, and the politicians are controlled by the companies (via their campaign contributions/PAC's) being regulated.  The fox is in charge of the hen house!

I thought capitalism was all about free markets, and competition?  No?  This all sounds rigged to me.

So, let's all go to the polls next year and vote to re-elect the same bunch of politicians that we have right now.  I mean, they're doing such a great job looking out for our interests, why shouldn't we?

S

16 comments:

  1. All the more reason for single payer.

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  2. Bill is correct, with a single-payer we'd have a system that worked for us, not for the insurers. A couple of other things: which of all the insurance systems out there have the lowest overhead/administrative costs? Did you guess Medicare? Correct. But how can that be, after all they are the government, and every body knows that all government programs are wasteful and bad. Not to mention that according to various lobby groups it, like the ACA is a socialist program, and ergo must be bad.

    Why do the members of congress have a approval rating of around 20% favorable, yet 95% of incumbents get elected when averaged over a 10 year period. Why indeed. Why do 40% believe the President is a Muslim, or was born in Kenya? Why do many congress deny science based evidence? Why do so many low income people believe in trickle down economics, when it's shown time and again to be detrimental to the poor and low income?

    We re-elect because many of us are single-issue, and blind to anything else. We let religion, or some narrow interest influence us to the detriment of rational thought.

    In other words, we get exactly what we deserve to have in terms of elected officials.

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    Replies
    1. Hey, I don't know, but this just to show there are sometimes two sides to a story, especially when facts, numbers and percentages are thrown around.
      http://www.ahipcoverage.com/2014/01/03/myth-vs-fact-administrative-costs-in-medicare-private-health-plans/

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    2. The facts on AHIP by Peter Stone of the National Journal:

      Six of the nation's biggest health insurers began quietly pumping big money into third-party television ads aimed at killing or significantly modifying the major health reform bills while moving through Congress.
      That money, between $10 million and $20 million, came from Aetna, Cigna, Humana, Kaiser Foundation Health Plans, UnitedHealth Group and Wellpoint, according to two health care lobbyists familiar with the transactions. The companies are all members of the powerful trade group America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP).
      The funds were solicited by AHIP and funneled to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to help underwrite tens of millions of dollars of television ads by two business coalitions set up and subsidized by the chamber. Each insurer kicked in at least $1 million and some gave multi-million dollar donations.

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    3. My point was that while some (Republicans) espouse "the free market", they really mean they are willing to grant some waivers to those who...ahem...are "loyal contributors". The Democrats are just slightly less hypocritical about it.

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  3. Obamacare is a reflection of Democrats trying to compromise with Republicans, who really don't want any government involvement with Healthcare. Staunch liberals don't like Obamacare because without a single pay system placing the government in charge, costs can't seriously be controlled.

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    1. As I recall the vote on the ACA was along strictly partisan lines. I don't remember there being any "compromise".

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    2. I take Stephen's point that the compromises were made leading up to the vote. That is, staunch liberals were lobbying for single payer and in order to insure passage they compromised on the legislation that was ultimately introduced.

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    3. Fair enough Bill / Stephen. But then the compromise was between the more liberal wing of the Democratic Party who wanted a single payer plan, and the rest of the Democratic Party who just wanted SOMETHING other than the status quo that was slowly losing ground. I don't recall either wing compromising with the Republicans, not that the Republicans were likely to compromise even if an offer had been made.

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  4. I'm sure those big new companies will make sure to donate plenty to keep Republicans in the Congress and Bernie Sanders out of the White House.

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    Replies
    1. True Pat, but honestly, special interests usually contribute to BOTH parties in case their preferred party loses. That way they will still have a foot in the door.

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  5. Bernie Sanders is for the single payer health care plan.

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  6. Bill Maher stunned Bernie Sanders on his program. He asked him "who is going to pay for all of your programs?" Bernie stumbled.

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  7. How is the rain affecting your area? Hope you are warm and dry.

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    Replies
    1. We're fine...thanks. We got about 8", but no flooding, plus I'm on high ground. South of Dallas, in Corsicana, they had 20" and some serious problems. Our thoughts are with them.

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