Friday, December 11, 2009

How a Few Private Health Insurers Are on the Way to Controlling Health Care

Robert Reich is completely blind to the dangers of a "public option" for health care, but he sure understands what the evil health insurers are up to:

...we still end up with a system that's based on private insurers that have no incentive whatsoever to control their costs or the costs of pharmaceutical companies and medical providers. If you think the federal employee benefit plan is an answer to this, think again. Its premiums increased nearly 9 percent this year. And if you think an expanded Medicare is the answer, you're smoking medical marijuana. The Senate bill allows an independent commission to hold back Medicare costs only if Medicare spending is rising faster than total health spending. So if health spending is soaring because private insurers have no incentive to control it, we're all out of luck. medicare explodes as well.

A system based on private insurers won't control costs because private insurers barely compete against each other....

Private insurers are exempt from competition. As a result, they are becoming ever more powerful. And it's not just their economic power that's worrying. It's also their political power, as we've learned over the last ten months. Economic and political power is a potent combination. Without some mechanism forcing private insurers to compete, we're going to end up with a national health care system that's controlled by a handful of very large corporations accountable neither to American voters nor to the market.
Reich is almost there, especially when he writes:
Economic and political power is a potent combination.
How he doesn't get that a "public option" will just mean a different group with economic and political power is a mystery.

I'm also not sure how Reich doesn't get that the Healthcare bill will continue to put an enormous amount of power into "health deciders" who will end up cutting the costs he so accurately describes as skyrocketing. The deciders then, of course, become a death panel that decides who gets treated, when and why.

In other words, Reich only sees the first level of trouble, not the third, and fourth.

1 comment:

  1. Do you know who the private insurers are and if they were in the back room with obama?