Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Reform Insurance Companies Can Believe In

Bob Herbert of the NYT is not happy with the way things are going with health care reform:

Forget about a crackdown on price-gouging drug companies and predatory
insurance firms. That’s not happening. With the public pretty well confused
about what is going on, we’re headed — at best — toward changes that will result
in a lot more people getting covered, but that will not control exploding health
care costs and will leave industry leaders feeling like they’ve hit the jackpot.

Insurance companies are delighted with the way “reform” is unfolding. Think
of it: The government is planning to require most uninsured Americans to buy
health coverage. Millions of young and healthy individuals will be herded into
the industry’s welcoming arms. This is the population the insurers drool

This additional business — a gold mine — will more than offset
the cost of important new regulations that, among other things, will prevent
insurers from denying coverage to applicants with pre-existing conditions or
imposing lifetime limits on benefits. Poor people will either be funneled into
Medicaid, which will have its eligibility ceiling raised, or will receive a
government subsidy to help with the purchase of private insurance.

If the oldest and sickest are on Medicare, and the poorest are on Medicaid,
and the young and the healthy are required to purchase private insurance without
the option of a competing government-run plan — well, that’s reform the
insurance companies can believe in.

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