As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Insurance Industry Drops ANOTHER Flawed Report

(I'm writing this post in my role as a blogger fellow for Brave New Films' Sick For Profit campaign)

Not content having embarrassed themselves once this week with a "study" of health reform that doesn't look at any of the elements of health reform, AHIP has done it again. Blue Cross Blue Shield has sponsored this report, put together by the accounting firm Oliver Wyman, claiming that premiums will rise 50% on the individual market and 19% on the small group market should health reform pass.

Once again, the report doesn't factor in almost everything in the bill that would mitigate the premium increases, though it does come to a slightly better conclusion than the original AHIP report from PricewaterhouseCoopers, the one that they immediately distanced themselves from. The White House characterized it this way - "if the AHIP report was a $3.50 bill, this one's a $3.00 bill."

As Ezra Klein points out, the real value in these reports is how it shows the bankruptcy of the insurance industry as a whole, and how they simply cannot conceive of anything resembling a legitimate market for their services:

Essentially, they've spent so long pricing the sick and the old out of the individual market that they don't really know what to do when they're allowed back in [...]

This is the house they've built: an insurance market where plans are written for the healthy and all legal efforts are made to exclude the sick. That's meant premiums are somewhat lower than they'd otherwise be, but only because the people who most need health-care insurance aren't able to afford it, or in some cases, aren't able to convince anyone to sell it to them. Now that arrangement is ending and they're scared that they can't provide an affordable product to the people who need it. They may be right, but it's evidence of how deeply perverse their business has become, not of what's wrong with health-care reform. When they say that the individual market would be cheaper in the absence of health-care reform, they're saying the individual market would be cheaper if they could continue refusing to sell affordable insurance to people who need health-care coverage.

That's not the kind of business anybody should be working to protect.

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