The Health Insurance Industry’s Latest Double-Cross

Just in case anyone thought they couldn’t go any lower, the insurance companies have made yet another sleazy move in the ongoing battle over health care reform. This morning, their industry shill group announced a new “report” warning  that the proposed reforms would raise a “typical family’s” health insurance premiums by as much as $4,000 over the next ten years.

The report, issued by American Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), is a particular stab in the back to President Obama and Senate Finance Committee chair Max Baucus. Both have spent recent month’s assiduously kissing the insurers’ gold plated butts, in exchange for their “co-operation” on health care reform. The Baucus bill is already a giveaway to the health insurance industry: By requiring millions more Americans to buy private health insurance plans, it stands to shovel even more money into their coffers, while posing little government regulation and no competition from a public plan.

But that still wasn’t enough for the insurance companies. As the Los Angeles Times reports, health insurers have concluded that Baucus bill doesn’t do enough “to draw young, healthy people into the insurance pool. Industry analysts predict that by postponing and reducing penalties on those who fail to buy health insurance, it would attract less-healthy patients who would drive up costs.” In other words, some of the new policy-holders might actually require insurance companies to pay for some health care in exchange for their bonanza of new premiums. That, of course, might chip away at their profit margin, whch would never do–so their only option is to raise already sky-high insurance premiums even higher. Or so they say.

Here, via Fox News, are some stats on the poor, starving health insurance executives who could be forced to  prostrate themselves for the good of the general public. Poor guys. Give ’em a break.

Health Insurers’ Executive Pay (2008)

Axis Capital Holdings Limited
John R. Charman
$41.6 M

W. R. Berkley Corp.
William R. Berkley
$29.2 M

Aetna
Ronald A. Williams
$24.3 M

MetLife
C. Robert Henrikson
$20.8 M

Chubb Corp.
John D. Finnegan
$20.1 M

American International Group
Martin J. Sullivan
$14.7 M

Everest Re Group
Joseph V. Taranto
$14.6 M

Commerce Group
Gerald Fels
$13.2 M

Prudential Financial
John R. Strangfeld
$12.9 M

Cigna
H. Edward Hanway
$12.2 M

Wellpoint
Angela Braly
$9.8 M

Coventry
Dale Wolf
$9 M

Health Net
Jay Gellert
$4.4 M

Humana
Michael McCallister
$4.7 M

United Health Group
Stephen J. Hemsley
$3.24 M

Source: The Corporate Library, SEC filings

The LA Times reports that “industry officials said they intended to circulate the report on Capitol Hill and promote it in advertisements.”  What this means is another well-funded effort to scare the public, along the lines of the original “Harry and Louise” ads against the Clinton health care reform. (Those ads were funded by AHIP’s predecessor.) These scare tactics are designed to distract people from the most obvious means of reducing health care costs, which is to kick the bloodsucking insurance companies out of the system altogether–or, barring that, to take a slice out of  their fat profits.

5 responses to “The Health Insurance Industry’s Latest Double-Cross

  1. It is totally unbelievable that the american public has not risen up, taken to the streets and demanded demolishment of this entire corrupt government at the very least we should be demanding the shut-down of corporate profit at the expense of our very life!apparently the people are considered to be so utterly stupid, this greedy grab gets to play out right in our face.it can only get worse from here.

  2. Michael Lopez

    It may seem unbelievable, but then again, I could not believe we voted in George W Bush twice!

    Saying that, its unfortunate the most of the population don’t actually read about what is happening. Its sad, but true.

  3. Theresa is right.
    What is to be done?
    I have no idea of a solution but for sure the contradictions, the blatant opportunism and profiteering are clear, not hidden.

    For example:
    “As her hometown San Francisco Chronicle put it in 2003 — in an article headlined “War brings business to Feinstein spouse: Blum’s firms win multimillion-dollar defense contracts in Iraq, Afghanistan”: “When it comes to scoring mega-military-related contracts, Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s multimillionaire husband, Richard Blum, is right in the thick of things.” The article described billions of dollars in military contracts received by companies in which Blum has a large stake from the War on Terror, the Iraq War, the war in Afghanistan, and numerous other policies Feinstein works in the Senate to enable. Other than the Daschles and the Bayhs, it’s difficult to find a spousal team whose public and private activities feed off one another as synergistically as theirs do.”

    Could not be more obvious right?

    My friend used to say: “There’ll never be a revolution in America unless they close the beer companies.”

    I fear he is right.

    Or if they shut down American Idol, I guess that would get people out in the street.

    —sigh—

  4. Sorry, we did not vote for Bush twice! Gore got the popular vote and Kerry’s election was stolen in Ohio (see Mark Crispin Miller’s work on this subject) Yes, the U.S. public is still too quiescent but that can’t and won’t last forever. We must not be defeatist otherwise we won’t be able to persist over the long haul.

  5. Pingback: Big Pharma Is the Big Winner in Health Care Reform « Unsilent Generation

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