Thursday, October 15, 2009
Nothing like no competition
Hurry up and die already we need the bed space. Turnover you know.
The last hold outs of the conservadems have a good point against a public option in health care, but they only have themselves to blame. In their states they have only one or two insurance companies doing all the business. In most of these states one company can have 90% of the business which means that they can charge anything they want. How can that be you might ask? The insurance companies were given an exemption from the anti trust laws way back in 1945. A court ruling gave them this little loophole by stating that insurance was not considered commerce. Now it used to be that all insurance companies were non profit so it was no big problem back then. That is until Nixon changed the laws so that HMOs could come into existance. And who do you think the CEOs of these outfits give their campaign contributions to? You guessed it their best buds the republicans for the most part with the exception of those conservadems in those small states. This brings to mind an analogy involving dogs mating but I won't go there.
It was the McCarran-Ferguson Act that permitted the insurance companies to act like a company store (remember the song "16 tons"). It was supposed to give the states the right to regulate insurance companies but that was only by a dissenting opinion so there is no teeth in the decision. Even though your state might have an insurance commisioner his powers are so limited. We can attest to that fact by the amounts rates have gone up over the past few years. I've seen my own rates go up by 75% in the last two years when I had insurance. Why should a medical test that once cost $34 now cost nearly $100? Not only that but the insurance companies are ripping off hospitals and clinics and not just the patients. How? They have a contract with the hospital to pay out fixed amounts on proceedures. When the contract is up the insurance company will try to keep their payouts at the old rate even if the hospitals costs have gone up. And that's a scary thing for the patient who by logic will pick the nearest hospital in an emergency not knowing if his insurance is honored there or not. Remember any out of provider or PPO is only paid at 50% of what's usual or customary.
So I think the insurance companies have shot themselves in the foot with that latest Price Waterhouse report. They're about to get a double punch in the face if they try to derail this. They could get their nice anti trust exemption revoked and competition from a public option. We'll see how this all works out. Sausage making is such an ugly process.