Monday, October 12, 2009

Krugman: Insurance Industry Assails Health Care Legislation

Here’s an interesting editorial on the most recent efforts of the Insurance Industry to defeat BARF (Baucus Against a Real Fix bill).

Happy Rich Businessman In a blistering new attack, the health insurance industry said Sunday that health care legislation drafted by Senate Democrats would drive up premiums, rather than making coverage more affordable, as the White House contends.

A lobby for the industry, America’s Health Insurance Plans, focused its criticism on a bill likely to be approved Tuesday by the Senate Finance Committee.

“The overall impact will be to increase the cost of private insurance coverage for individuals, families and businesses above what these costs would be in the absence of reform,” said Karen M. Ignagni, president of the trade association.

Democratic aides on the Finance Committee disputed the conclusion. They said the bill would provide tax credits to millions of people to help them afford coverage. Moreover, they said, people could keep the coverage they now have if they wanted. In addition, they said, some provisions of the bill would reduce the administrative costs of insurance.

Ms. Ignagni cited a report done last week for her organization by PricewaterhouseCoopers, the accounting firm.

The report says that the cost of the average family coverage, now $12,300, will rise to $18,400 in 2016 under current law and to $21,300 if the Senate bill is adopted. Likewise, it said, the cost of individual coverage, now $4,600, will average $6,900 in 2016 under current law and $7,900 under the bill.

The study provides ammunition to Republicans attacking the legislation and might intensify the concerns of some Democrats who worry that the bill does not provide enough help to low- and middle-income people to enable them to buy insurance...

Inserted from <NY Times>

Now I can’t speak to the accuracy of the PWC data, and I would be surprised if it is not weighted toward what Big Insurance wants.  However, in essence, they are right about BARF and are using it to try to kill reform.

BARF imposes a fee on all insurance policies worth more than $8,000 per year.  The claim that insurance companies will lower premiums to avoid paying the fee is ludicrous.  With BARF’s mandated coverage and lack of either a strong public option or any controls on premium rates, Big Insurance would be free to reduce benefits and raise prices.  That’s exactly what they will do.  Millions of middle class people have plans that will be charged.  The House versions of health care reform make their versions revenue neutral by taxing  incomes over $250,000 per year.  That’s the way to go here.


Annette said...

I have never liked the BARF (I love that name) bill.. I think the Kennedy HELP bill and the bills put forth by the House are much better.

Hopefully, once they get merged in the process they will make it all better.. that's what I am holding out for anyway.

I think this report by the Insurance companies is just a bogus report... and as some are saying, if nothing else it shows there aren't enough regulations of the Ins. Company's in the plan. Maybe it will make them strengthen it.

ivan said...

The thing escalates as insurance policies are now being treated like subprime mortgages, Wall Street hoping that people will actually live way beyond the calculated time of their supposed death dates and everybody is supposed to make money, even the subprimers. The more the merrier on the insurance policies and the The longer the client lives, the more feet.
The same gang seems to be running things and they seemed to have forgotten nothing and learned nothing.

Stimpson said...

BARF is part of a simple strategy: Propose a really shitty way to "reform" a system; when that proposal fails, say reform is a non-starter. Watch as multitudes of U.S. citizens fall for it. With luck, maybe most won't be hoodwinked by this scam of a sham.

Max Baucus is a major league A-hole. Fuck him and the horse he rode in on.

TomCat said...

Annette, that is my hope as well.

Ivan, WallStreet is a bigger swamp than Congress.

Stimson, I think that's exactly what BARF is about, but not so the Kennedy bill or the three House bills. Regarding your offer... with the horse... maybe. with Baucus... forget it. ;-)

Jack Jodell said...

Enough is enough. The health insurance industry has already demonstrated repeatedly it is using unfair business practices by excluding millions of people and booting many others off its coverage when their treatment is getting too prolonged or involved for their tastes. As such, they are not acting in the public interest at all and are proving to be a health hazard for 1 out of every 6.5 of us in this country. President Obama and the Democrats have been playing Mr. Nice Guy in poermitting these undeserving jerks a place at the table and have been allowing this crap to go on for too long. I say, since the health insurance industry is not act acting in good faith OR the public interest, "no more Mr. Nice Guy"! It is time for out and out price controls on these greedy, profiteering asses! Better yet, time for an out and out nationalization of the health care industry as a whole!!!

TomCat said...

Jack, I agree completely. They may have just shot themselves in the foot with this. If, as they say, health care reform will drive up insurance premiums, what better support could there be for the need of a strong public option?