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A Republican Health Insurance Plan? February 9, 2010

Posted by Dwight Furrow in Dwight Furrow's Posts, politics.
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Via the LA Times:

Anthem Blue Cross is telling many of its approximately 800,000 customers who buy individual coverage — people not covered by group rates — that its prices will go up March 1 and may be adjusted “more frequently” than its typical yearly increases.

The insurer declined to say how high it is increasing rates. But brokers who sell these policies say they are fielding numerous calls from customers incensed over premium increases of 30% to 39%, saying they come on the heels of similar jumps last year.

This is the result of not passing health insurance reform. The Republican Party and a few Democratic “centrists” would apparently like to see more of this.

Interestingly, the main plank in the Republican health care “plan” is a proposal to cap medical malpractice awards. The idea is that if you limit the amount of money damaged patients can sue for, insurance companies and doctors will charge less for their services.

But California, the home of Anthem Blue Cross, has capped medical malpractice claims since 1975. And research shows that that capping medical malpractice claims in other states has had no effect on insurance rates. (h/t Jonathan Zasloff)

It would be nice if we had a serious opposition party in this country.

book-section-book-cover2 Dwight Furrow is author of

Reviving the Left: The Need to Restore Liberal Values in America

For political commentary by Dwight Furrow visit: www.revivingliberalism.com



1. Moriae - February 10, 2010

What always seems to come to mind when speaking of health companies (not to mention nearly every other kind) like Anthem Blue Cross, or, for example, WellPoint (the largest), is mentioning the fact that they are profit making corporations. What is less often mentioned is that these corporations are all publically held companies owned by millions of Americans, many of whom depend on the profitability of these corporations for sustaining their retirement. Even less often acknowledged is the fact that among the chief beneficiaries of this investment process are the state employees’ union pension funds across the country; in California you have the nation’s two largest, Calpers and Calstrs.

I performed a quick online check of these funds to unscientifically ascertain the extent of these public employee investments. The Calstrs website doesn’t make it easy to determine such information, but Calpers, with quite a few clicks, does make the information available. Calpers lists 4,856 stocks they invest in spread over hundreds of online pages, all in alphabetical order. The largest for-profit health corporation in our country, Wellpoint, they hold 1,657,091 shares.

So where are we to save in health care? Should the retirees who depend on their health care investments making a decent return take a shot? Should the nurses be the ones? Should the doctors who spend years developing finely honed skills take the shot? What we always hear (from the President on down) is an undefined, amorphous complaint against “corporations,” as if we were talking of 19th Century style corporations run by crypto Rockefeller’s or Carnegie’s.

In probably the least mentioned fact about this issue, and perhaps the most sobering, is pointing out the fact that Kaiser Permanente is a non-profit organization. It is the largest health care organization in our country. Yet a brief examination of their website reveals that the non-profit cost of covering a couple amounts to more than $1,000.00 a month.

The fact of the matter is that, like most anything else in modern life, coming ‘to terms’ with difficult issues, such as health reform in this case, requires a much more subtler and conciliatory approach than is often met in ‘blogs.’ The appeal is largely emotional, and not illuminating or ultimately edifying. The ‘facts’ that people choose to rail against are usually carefully cherry-picked to make their argument easier to make. The net result is that a useful perspective, one which would suggest an ameliorating recourse to current situations, is never a notable objective in ‘blog debates.’

To borrow a phrase, there are simply too many ‘inconvenient truths’ for all parties to face to make any serious health reform likely. In other words, it’s in the interest of too many people to largely have the system remain as it is; those who have an interest in having it different are too few and too powerless.

Bilg - March 29, 2010

Good comment; but surely you did misquote the cost for insuring a couple at $1M a month?

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