Remember when the American people were told that insurance would be free for the poor and affordable for the middle class? You know, back when we had to wait for the Affordable Care Act to be passed before we found out what was in it?
Within weeks of the program finally launching Americans saw an immediate jump in their monthly health insurance premiums – up to a quadrupling for some families.
As it turns out, insurance providers aren’t done yet. Apparently, quadrupling your rates just wasn’t enough to cover the health care costs for the millions of people who are paying absolutely nothing into the system but continue to receive the benefit of expensive prescription drugs and costly increases in medical procedures.
As a result, by the end of this year you will see your monthly premiums skyrocket, in some cases as high as 50%:…
It wouldn’t surprise me if UnitedHealth Group executives helped shape the opinions of those editorial writers during the reform debate. One of the things I did in my old job as head of PR for one of the country’s other big for profit-insurers was arranging for my CEO to have “desk side chats” with bigwigs at important publications like Investor’s Business Daily. We would often leave those meetings with an invitation to submit an op-ed, as was the case several years ago when Ed Hanway, Cigna’s CEO at the time, and I visited with then Dow Jones CEO Peter Kann and Daniel Henninger, deputy editor of The Wall Street Journal editorial page.
The CEOs of the largest for-profit health insurance corporations were very wary of Obamacare as it was being drafted on Capitol Hill. They didn’t really say so publicly—in fact they had their chief lobbyist, America’s Health Insurance Plans’ Karen Ignagni—claim to support reform.
“You have our commitment to play, to contribute, and to help pass health care reform this year,” Ignagni told President Obama during a March 5, 2009, meeting at the White House.
But insurers were playing a duplicitous game. Later that year, Ignagni’s group began secretly funneling tens of millions of dollars to allies like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to finance anti-Obamacare PR and ad campaigns. The big for-profit insurers, which gave AHIP the lion’s share of the secret money, arguably are more responsible than any other special interest in turning the public’s attitudes against reform.
Although the insurers stood to gain financially from a law that would require Americans to buy coverage from them, many Wall Street financial analysts and investors worried that some provisions of the law might cut into insurers’ profit margins.
Analysts and investors in particular didn’t like the section of the law that would require insurers to spend at least 80 percent of their premium revenues on health care. Before the law, many insurers routinely spent 60 percent or less of their revenues on patient care. The less spent on care, the more available to reward shareholders.
Wall Street also didn’t like the provision that would have created a government-run public option to compete with commercial insurers, and they didn’t think the penalties on Americans who refused to buy coverage were harsh enough.
Partly because of the anti-reform advertising blitz insurers financed in late 2009 and early 2010, Congress capitulated and gave up on the public option. And lawmakers agreed to make the penalty for not buying insurance more painful with every passing year.
But despite the worry, it turns out that the law the insurance industry’s shills demonized has been awfully good to insurance company investors…