The audacity of greed: private health insurance
Almost for longer than time itself - OK, slight exaggeration - insurance companies have being trying so hard, millions of dollars in attack ad's, to protect their profits, they now come out into the open and say - quite openly - that they really don't believe in competition and would simply pass on any costs to new and existing customers.
Nothing new there we would think.
It's an 11th hour bombshell.
But the bomb went off under the insurers. The only reason these costs can be passed on to consumers in the form of higher premiums is because there's not enough competition among private insurers to force them to absorb the costs by becoming more efficient. Get it? Health insurers have just made the best argument yet about why a public insurance option is necessary.
But even now they are screaming for higher penalties for those new, young consumers of their wears. Because that would simply mean higher profits and no bringing down in costs - at all - to anyone.
They don't want competition - that is why they have been attacking the public option - because those insurance companies know that with it there will be and they will have to eat into that profit.
Right now they run their markets and set their prices, and pass on any increased costs directly to consumers. That's what they're threatening to do if the legislation attempts to squeeze, even slightly, the colossal profits they plan to make off of 30 million new paying customers.
They want every penny of those profits. They demand every cent. And if the government dares raise their costs a tad higher than they expected when they first signed on to support the bill, they'll pass those costs on to consumers in the form of higher premiums. They can carry out their threat only because they have unaccountable, untrammeled market power.
This is, as always, supported by so-called "free marketers". That they ain't. If they were they would embrace competition with some gusto - yet no, they don't - ask yourself why that is?
Now's the time for Senate Finance Committee and the White House to say to the insurance industry: You want to play hardball? OK. We'll play it, too. You didn't want a public insurance option. That was one of your conditions for supporting the bill. You wanted gigantic profits from having 30 million new paying customers and the market to yourself. We agreed because we wanted your support and were afraid of the negative ads and hurricane of opposition you could finance. But you're even greedier than we imagined. And now you've demonstrated that greed to the American people. They don't want to turn over even more of their hard-earned money to you. So, insurance companies, we've got news for you. We're going to make sure Americans have the freedom to choose a public insurance option that's cheaper and better, and you're going to have to work hard to keep them your customers.
What should also be said is that there will be no more pussy-footing around. It is time the American people got a real option with lower cost - and it is up to both White house and Congress to show how it will be achieved.
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Clearlake, California, United States