Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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January 24, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

REPUBLICANS AND THE INSURANCE INDUSTRY....The conventional wisdom about the Medicare prescription drug bill is that it was a huge giveaway to the pharmaceutical industry. And it was. But the real payoff was to the insurance industry, one of the Republican Party's favorite special interest groups.

Today, the Congressional Budget Office reports on the latest valentine from the GOP to the insurance industry. It turns out that Republicans met in closed session last month to make technical changes to a budget cutting bill that saved the industry $22 billion:

The Senate version would have targeted private HMOs participating in Medicare by changing the formula that governs their reimbursement, lowering payments $26 billion over the next decade. But after lobbying by the health insurance industry, the final version made a critical change that had the effect of eliminating all but $4 billion of the projected savings, according to CBO and other health policy experts.

...."It happens in the dead of night when lobbyists get a [Republican lawmaker] in the corner and say, 'We've got to have this,' " said Rep. Fortney "Pete" Stark (Calif.), the Democrats' point man on Medicare issues. "It's a pattern that just goes on and on, and at some point the public's going to rise up."

[Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles] Grassley disputed the CBO's interpretation of the change as "ridiculous," dismissing what appears to be a major insurance industry victory as merely a mistake in CBO calculations, not a substantive policy change. He said he accepted the policy change because he "didn't see a big difference from the Senate position and the conference position."

Indeed. Not a "big difference." Then why did the insurance industry lobby so desperately to get it passed?

Read the whole thing. It's another good example of how minor technical changes with huge consequences get inserted into conference reports with no oversight from either the public or from Democrats. Only the lobbyists and the GOP know what's going on.

And it works pretty well. $22 billion is a pretty good payoff for the insurance industry's $24 million in contributions to Republicans during the 2004 election cycle, isn't it? And it all comes out of your pocketbook.

Kevin Drum 1:50 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (64)

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Comments

GOP sure... But CT which is home to Aetna, Cigna, The Hartford, ING, United Health Care, and Travelers (bought by citigroup) has 2 democratic Senators and is a Blue state.

Posted by: amy on January 24, 2006 at 1:54 PM | PERMALINK

Yep. The whole reason managed care companies were invited to participate in Medicare was because they claimed they'd save money.

They have not saved money--in fact, by and large they've spent more taking care of healthier people than regular Medicare. And when their reimbursement dropped to the levels one saw in traditional medicare, they pulled out of the market in droves and left seniors high and dry.

This is a great point, Kevin. Pharma wasn't the only winner in the Medicare bill--insurance industries made out like bandits.

Posted by: theorajones on January 24, 2006 at 1:55 PM | PERMALINK

Lieberman doesn't count as a Democratic senator from CT.

Posted by: lib on January 24, 2006 at 1:56 PM | PERMALINK

The insurance industry is also an answer to the question: how do you finance national health care?

By taking the money sucked up by insurance processing and using that to cover the uninsured.

Basically the math is this: about 1 1/2 of the entire US GDP is insurance paper processing costs. You replace the current byzantine web of Medicare, medicaid and hundreds of insurance companies and private coverage with a universal system (all forced to use common paperwork).

Then you take that money to expand coverage.

Now there are many obvious difficulties - starting with the fact that those paper - processing costs are hidden all over the place. And these aren't classified as "taxes", while national health care would be "taxes", etc.

But overall that's the challenge - to get universal health care in the US you basically have to wipe out most of a pretty huge industry. And they are going to fight like the dickens to stop you.

Posted by: Samuel Knight on January 24, 2006 at 1:56 PM | PERMALINK

One added note: The Wash Post printed this. They've got their idiots to be sure - but they print some darn good stuff, too.

We might want to start sending "nice grams" too.

Posted by: Samuel Knight on January 24, 2006 at 1:59 PM | PERMALINK

But the real payoff was to the insurance industry
It turns out that Republicans met in closed session last month to make technical changes to a budget cutting bill that saved the industry $22 billion:

Hmmm... sounds like a good idea to me. Liberals like you have been complaining about the high costs of health insurance. By saving the industry $22 billion, companies can cut the costs of health insurance by passing the savings off to consumers. So the price of health insurance for consumers goes down. What's so wrong with that?

Posted by: Al on January 24, 2006 at 2:01 PM | PERMALINK

One of my relatives is a Democrat and a consultant in the medical industry. He has insisted that the Medicare prescription drug bill was good for seniors. I think he's hallucinating, so every time you post one of these articles I tell him about it. Keep it up. (Hi, Vince, if you're reading this.)

Posted by: G. Jones on January 24, 2006 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK

I can't wait to get my share of the "passing the savings off to consumers"

Thanks for the laugh, Al.

Posted by: rusrus on January 24, 2006 at 2:04 PM | PERMALINK

As a physician, I have to say that I hope there's a special place in hell for the insurance industry. They make doctors' and patients' lives a kafkaesque, bureaucratic nightmare, while they rake in huge amounts of $$$. They, not the trial lawyers, are the real enemy to providing good, cost-efficient medical care. The sooner we physicians accept not only the inevitbality but also the desirability of a universal health care delivery system, the happier we'll all be.

Posted by: eekfive on January 24, 2006 at 2:06 PM | PERMALINK

How much does that work out to per insured? roughly $100 if a third of Americans lack insurance. Which of the competing insurance companies will reduce its premiums (or reduce its premium increases) first? Where will the money end up?

Posted by: contentious on January 24, 2006 at 2:06 PM | PERMALINK

Gods, if I were named Fortney, I think I'd start calling myself "Pete," too ...

Only one solution, and I've been advocating it for years:

B-52 runs over Hartford, Connecticut. Wipe the entire for-private health insurance "industry" (don't industries usually produce something of value?) off the face of the earth, and absorb the hit to the GDP.

Of course, most Democrats absolutely suck on this issue, too. HillaryCare was a private insurance preseveration program, and it would have shared a lot of the systemic problems that we're seeing now in Medicare Part D.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 24, 2006 at 2:06 PM | PERMALINK

Al:

Here's a napkin. There's a string of semen dripping down your chin.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 24, 2006 at 2:10 PM | PERMALINK

I'm sure those God-fearing, holy and noble Republicans will do everything in their great and blessed power to ensure that the great, shining city on the hill (America!) will get the sort of health care system they know is best for everyone in their near-divine wisdom. We only need to have absolute faith in them and don't question a thing.....

Posted by: Stephen Kriz on January 24, 2006 at 2:12 PM | PERMALINK

for-private = for-profit, private

And replace it, of course, with single-payer.

Cue real tbrosz for another round of horror stories about the Post Office.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 24, 2006 at 2:14 PM | PERMALINK

... Rep. Fortney "Pete" Stark (Calif.), the Democrats' point man on Medicare issues. "It's a pattern that just goes on and on, and at some point the public's going to rise up."

I bet not. I bet that a majority of voters benefit, though undoubtedly not by much. Quoting a Democrat from California is probably not a step in the right direction on a quest for truth on financial matters.

California is one of the states where a majority actually believe that you can increase total wealth creation by increasing taxes and exporting successful businesses and entrepreneurs. It's never worked anywhere else, but Californians still believe.

Posted by: contentious on January 24, 2006 at 2:14 PM | PERMALINK

contentious:

Please describe the "wealth" created by the private healthcare industry.

Since, you know, I missed out on seeing a unicorn.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 24, 2006 at 2:16 PM | PERMALINK

It appears from the numbers that the lobbyists saved about $100 per insured at a cost of about $0.10 per insured. If it were my insurance company, I'd certainly applaud.

Posted by: contentious on January 24, 2006 at 2:17 PM | PERMALINK

contentious:

Please describe the "wealth" generated by the private healthcare insurance industry.

Since, you know, I missed out on seeing a unicorn.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 24, 2006 at 2:18 PM | PERMALINK

contentious:

And that "savings" goes ... where, exactly?

Oh right. I forgot about the suppositories ...

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 24, 2006 at 2:19 PM | PERMALINK

Although, CT is often seen as the hub of insurance. Let's not forget that Des Moines (cough, Mr. Grassley, cough) and Minneapolis are also major hubs for insurance.

Posted by: DC1974 on January 24, 2006 at 2:20 PM | PERMALINK

As long as tbroz gets his few hundreds in tax cuts (and watches his retirement mutual funds go down), he doesn't care how many bond we have to sell to China!

Posted by: Gore/Obama '08 on January 24, 2006 at 2:21 PM | PERMALINK

One added note: The Wash Post printed this. They've got their idiots to be sure - but they print some darn good stuff, too. We might want to start sending "nice grams" too.

Posted by: Samuel Knight on January 24, 2006 at 2:23 PM | PERMALINK

The spam-bots are getting pretty brazen; they're coming out in daylight now. That "Samuel Knight" copy-and-repost has a link to an online gambling site.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 24, 2006 at 2:27 PM | PERMALINK

So: It costs $24 million to get $22 Billion; This is a 1000:1 ratio- a pretty good return on capital.

Why is the congress so cheap? I figure that they should get at least 3 times what they do get. Maybe that is why nobody in business will hire them- they go too cheap!

Posted by: MCC on January 24, 2006 at 2:29 PM | PERMALINK

Allow me to add the insurance companies to the list of lobbyists who will not be affected by the Abramoff scandal. Abramoff had to steal his money from the Native American casinos in order to have enough money to give to politicians (Republicans). The insurance companies, defense contractors, big pharma, AIPAC and etc. do not have to steal money from Indians. They have enough money to lobby/bribe/corrupt our politicans from their own businesses. They do not have to risk being caught stealing from gambling rich Indians, like Abramoff did, which is why they will not be caught stealing and why business as usual will go on in DC.

Posted by: Powerpuff on January 24, 2006 at 2:29 PM | PERMALINK

Powerpuff:

That is a huge problem with leveraging the Abramoff scandal to create systemic reform with teeth, yes.

It's also hurt by Democrats who want to be purist about hanging the Abramoff albatross solely around the heads of Republicans.

To the extent that you narrow the scope of the scandal to outright criminality (bribes, theft, concrete quid-pro-quo), it's absolutely true that it's a wholly-owned subsidiary of the GOP.

To the extent that lobbying practices warp all kinds of legislative processes affecting big business to the detriment of the little guy, the culture of lobbyist influence is, sadly enough, bipartisan.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 24, 2006 at 2:35 PM | PERMALINK

California is one of the states where a majority actually believe that you can increase total wealth creation by increasing taxes and exporting successful businesses and entrepreneurs. It's never worked anywhere else, but Californians still believe.

contentious

Good call, douchebag. I've lived in CA for 35 years, yet to meet anyone here who believes that.

Posted by: Eureka on January 24, 2006 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

Yup, California is all messed up. So I'm willing to secede to help the rest of America balance its budget. You don't need us, really, you don't.

Posted by: craigie on January 24, 2006 at 2:48 PM | PERMALINK

For Lieberman haters, BTW - he's always been in the health insurance companies pocket.

And for Hillary haters - she took single payer right off the table in the health care proposal. And did come up with a pretty bad plan.

Posted by: Samuel Knight on January 24, 2006 at 2:53 PM | PERMALINK

Anybody notice any interesting trades in insurance companies around this?

Posted by: Joe Parnacott on January 24, 2006 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK

Samuel Knight:

Nothing like the glories of a "free market" coerced at friendly gunpoint by armies of industry lobbyists, eh?

May the best piece of legislation win.

How anybody with Libertarian pretensions can live with themselves and support any aspect of this scheme as part of the "marketpace of ideas" I truly have no idea ....

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 24, 2006 at 2:56 PM | PERMALINK

My health care proposal was the best one. But no, you wouldn't listen to reason. Now you get sick, you're fucked. Serves you right.

Posted by: Time Magaziner on January 24, 2006 at 3:04 PM | PERMALINK

"California is one of the states where a majority actually believe that you can increase total wealth creation by increasing taxes and exporting successful businesses and entrepreneurs."

Well, considering the per-capita GDP in California is close to the highest of any state, and CA is the seventh largest economy in the world, they must be doing something right.

Posted by: Urinated State of America on January 24, 2006 at 3:10 PM | PERMALINK

The insurance industry creates wealth by reducing risk. They also smooth out medical consumption cycles - much like the financial industry, an individual can invest money during their working life (or healthy life) and consume it during their retirement (or sick life).

They also have an incentive to reduce payments by keeping people healthy or optimising health care processes. The company that keeps people healthiest and serves them most efficiently wins. Hooray!

Unfortunately, insurance companies make more money bribing congress, shifting costs whenever possible (I luuuuv getting my insurance company to pay benefits), eliminating the unhealthy from their portfolios as much as possible, and investing cash assets.

Posted by: Saam Barrager on January 24, 2006 at 3:12 PM | PERMALINK

By saving the industry $22 billion, companies can cut the costs of health insurance by passing the savings off to consumers. So the price of health insurance for consumers goes down. What's so wrong with that? Posted by: Al on January 24, 2006 at 2:01 PM

Yeah Al. And your check is in the mail.

*snicker*

Posted by: The Insurance Industry on January 24, 2006 at 3:17 PM | PERMALINK

The insurance industry creates wealth by reducing risk. They also smooth out medical consumption cycles - much like the financial industry, an individual can invest money during their working life (healthy life) and consume it during their retirement (sick life).

They also have an incentive to reduce payments by keeping people healthy or optimising health care processes. The company that keeps people healthiest and serves them most efficiently wins. Hooray!

Unfortunately, insurance companies make more money bribing congress, shifting costs whenever possible (I luuuuv getting my insurance company to pay benefits), eliminating the unhealthy from their portfolios as much as possible, and investing cash assets.

So they don't really do the things that under a competitive private model would give them value. Too many counterincentives.

Note that large union-driven HMOs that offer their own insurance (like Kaiser) spend much more time doing the things that create value - including streamlining processes, not shaking down patients, and focusing on illness prevention.

Posted by: Saam Barrager on January 24, 2006 at 3:17 PM | PERMALINK

He's not tbrosz, but this "contentious" fellow is right up there when it comes to spouting total bullshit in a seemingly rational voice.

"A majority of Californians believe _(insert dumbass Republican strawman here)_."

Have a look at Gross State Products per capita and tell us again how Californians don't know how to run an economy, boy.

Posted by: S Ra on January 24, 2006 at 3:34 PM | PERMALINK

I'm with craigie. I'm ready to say "buh-bye" and take our show on the road. Now if we could just get Oregon and Washington to go along with us, maybe we could annex ourselves to Canada. As long as that wouldn't mean we had to learn French.

As for the insurance companies "creating wealth" by "reducing risk," I call b.s. Like every other for-profit business, they charge more than they pay back. It is simple to see that if we could pool our money to pay for health care without insurance companies, all their profit could be used for actual, you know, health care.

Posted by: Cal Gal on January 24, 2006 at 3:43 PM | PERMALINK

I hate Republicans' politics and corruption, but how many Democrats voted for this Medicare/Pharma bill? How many Democrats voted for the bankruptcy/credit card company payoff bill?

Posted by: Powerpuff on January 24, 2006 at 3:45 PM | PERMALINK

Powerpuff:

Sadly enough, my senator (and now governor) -- a guy in the top three with the most progressive voting record in the senate -- did. It was the only truly black mark on his voting record when I printed it out from VoteSmart.

Jon Corzine. I wouldn't doubt he regrets that vote bitterly.

Sam Barrager:

Oh, *insurance* creates wealth, no question. Flattening risk over time is an unambiguous social good.

But the disincentives to cherry pick, depend on investment income and lobby Congress for the best deal for their bottom lines is built into the market system.

Don't get seduced into the Libertarian pipe dream that the free market only creates positive or virtuous incentives. Perverse incentives are incentives the same.

We need single-payer healthcare.

End of flippin' story.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 24, 2006 at 4:19 PM | PERMALINK

Well, California, I won't mind if you leave, but only if we can force Texas out of the union at the same time. If you manage to take Washington and Oregon, we might want to force Texas to take a few states along with them.

Posted by: freelunch on January 24, 2006 at 4:30 PM | PERMALINK

Let's just offer Texas a case of Lone Star and $300 if they'll secede again.

$400 if they take Chimpy with 'em.

Posted by: Davy Crockpot on January 24, 2006 at 4:38 PM | PERMALINK

Who will cover the cost with UHC? Insure Cos, god love em, take the risk of that cost and try to make money, and do pretty well. UHC puts that risk on the gov, thereby removing the greed factor.

My corp HC plan works, it costs a bit, but I'm covered. People w/o HC should have something available to them. That is where the Gov should step in and help. We do it for old people.

The only arguement that works for UNC is that it removes a layer of profit taking from the system and that may save money. But you still have very expensive HC costs and the naked consumer. Deep pocket types (corps/gov/pensions) have picked up this cost and offset the risk with insurence. UHC puts all the costs on the gov, which even after the insur cost are removed is still significant. You want UHC, prepare to pay more in taxes, just like many EU countries. Maybe its a better way, but I would really have to see the numbers.

Posted by: the fake Fake Al on January 24, 2006 at 4:44 PM | PERMALINK

mark:

Because liberals favor not-for-profit healthcare insurance administered by the government and paid for through taxes.

The very idea of starting another insurance company in a world where too many of them exist to begin with would utterly defeat the purpose of our position.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 24, 2006 at 4:53 PM | PERMALINK

Discussed here.

'We liberals' haven't recommended "better corporate management", it's a little more involved than that...

Posted by: Dr. Kildare on January 24, 2006 at 4:54 PM | PERMALINK

maybe god will speak to the democrats through some burning bushes. MARY JO WAUNA

Posted by: MARY JO WAUNA on January 24, 2006 at 5:17 PM | PERMALINK

A few things to point out here: the Post article is in reference to the Deficit Reduction Act, which finally passed the Senate with no Democratic support and only by a tie-breaking vote cast by the VP, so Lieberman ultimately did not vote for it. Another point - the Democratic congressional proposal would ban the practice of changing conference reports by secret negotiation, so there IS a difference in the parties. Lastly, the article points out where the money went but not where it comes from - the poor. This bill gives insurers a pass at the expense of devastating cuts to the Medicaid program. It is a shameful act on many, many levels.

Posted by: CMO on January 24, 2006 at 5:27 PM | PERMALINK

On insurance companies creating wealth by spreading risk. Yes, they do this in most markets. But in health care two massive incentives to cheat erase the advantages.

1) Cherry picking customers. You design sophisticated algorithims on how to get healthy people to sign up and avoid covering sick people.

2) You create byzantine paperwork to discourage people from filing.

And all that is complicated by the fact that health care has huge amounts of long term complicated externalities. For example pre-natal care is heavily cost-effective on a nationwide scale, but not so much for small scale plans where you might not be next year.

Dental coverage is very important to the poor for image and getting jobs, but horribly expensive when people use it to repair past damages, etc.

And right now - as Bob reminds us above the sheer complexity of the US system makes it a prime target for lobbyists.

Posted by: Samuel Knight on January 24, 2006 at 5:32 PM | PERMALINK

If the Insurance Corporations are run so inefficiently, why don't you liberals start up an insurance company yourselves?

We used to have mutual societies, but the capitalists converted them to insurance companies, screwing over the original owners, and gouging the new customers. Capitalism and free markets do not work for public goods. If you think they do, privatize the military and water and sewage and etc.

Posted by: Powerpuff on January 24, 2006 at 5:38 PM | PERMALINK

And it all comes out of your pocketbook.

That depends on who "you" are. If you are an above average earner and taxpayer, that is essentially a transfer from your taxes to your premiums.

If you are a below average earner on medicare, that is a transfer from someone else's taxes to your medical care.

The losers here are the way above average earners and taxpayers who forego insurance. To them it is a net loss in tax (or else, net borrowing by the government.) The winners are the medium income earners who pay insurance premiums, whose premiums subsidize the treatment that is received by medicare patients.


Most people will pay to reduce uncertainty. The "wealth" created by insurance companies is the reduction in the uncertainty of health care costs (especially the reduction in the likelihood of extremely high costs) that the premium payers pay for. Besides that, insurance companies manage large capital pools that get invested in diverse businesses. Almost all of the $22B that is at issue gets transmitted to hospital staff, nurses, doctors, and insurance company staff.

If you think that there is a better way to run medical insurance, write out your business plan and submit it to a venture capitalist. Then get out in the market and make your case. Especially if you are a doctor and have friends who are doctors. That's basically how the John Deere Health Care Company started.

As for the moral superiority of doctors over insurers, I am certain that the insurers, but not the doctors, would readily agree to increase the number of doctors graduated and certified per year. There are certainly enough qualified applicants to triple the total number of doctors in a decade or less. It's the doctors who impose the barriers to entry.

Posted by: contentious on January 24, 2006 at 5:52 PM | PERMALINK

mark:

Why don't you just STFU?

Posted by: brewmn on January 24, 2006 at 5:58 PM | PERMALINK

mark:

Because competition is the enemy when it comes to a captive market.

If the whole purpose of insurance is to spread the risk, it makes no sense to have a whole bunch of small risk pools who have every incentive to have only the healthiest people and kick out the sick.

It's what you call a perverse incentive.

That's why a single system would be better.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 24, 2006 at 6:29 PM | PERMALINK

Des Moines, Iowa has the second highest concentration of insurance companies in the United States.

Grassley is bought and paid for.

Posted by: Ex - Republican Yankee on January 24, 2006 at 6:30 PM | PERMALINK

Just a little clarification is in order here:

Insurance companies do not 'create wealth by assuming risk'. Insurance companies enable the spreading of risk over a broader population, thereby reducing the costs on a per insured participant basis. There is no wealth creation at all. In fact, there is a overall net cost injected into the pool of insurable events that must be covered, due to the administrative expenses of the insurer. In fact, why do private insurers have to get involved at all? Who ever said that an insurance company has to act as your intermediary in dealing with your doctor? Why not negotiate directly with your doctor yourself? That way you don't get abominations like CEO Bill McGuire of United Health getting paid obscene salaries and stock options. As many have pointed out on this forum, government-administered health insurance such as Medicare are much more efficient, for this reason.

No, this is not the glorious "free market" at work. It is rigged markets at work. Which are the kinds that conservatives really seem to favor...

Posted by: Stephen Kriz on January 24, 2006 at 6:40 PM | PERMALINK

Insurance companies also help people finance homes that they would not otherwise be able to purchase outright and can later sell for a profit thus creating a certain amount of wealth as well as spreading risk.

Posted by: berlins on January 24, 2006 at 7:02 PM | PERMALINK

I've joked for years that a secret GOP fundraising slogan is "Give a million... GET A BILLION!!". $22 billion in benefits for $24 million in contributions is getting pretty close to the magic ratio.

Posted by: dzman49 on January 24, 2006 at 7:31 PM | PERMALINK

Al-bot: the $22 billion "saved" isn't actually saved, it's not like we decided to provide cheaper services. We are just asking for $22 billion less and in return we are going to pay the bill on the government side, i.e. TBrosz's taxes (I hope he's not thinking of retiring soon).

FWIW Mark, not every democrat wants to shut out private industry from the health care business (though the health insurance business could definitely use a basic, mandatory, "universal" competitor)

Posted by: Matt on January 24, 2006 at 10:40 PM | PERMALINK

Matt: I suspect the Canadian model would never fly in the U.S. That's not to say it wouldn't work. If the state covered basic healthcare and industry was stuck doing mostly cosmetics and the like there is enough room at the table for everyone. Sadly, in any system perverted by lobbyists ( do we know a place like that ? ), the only way to keep private enterprise honest is to keep it out. Otherwise we have ( as has been pointed out lots ) private carriers taking no/low risk business and trashing the risk pool ( a subsidy by any name ).

Posted by: opit on January 24, 2006 at 11:00 PM | PERMALINK

Great thread. Nice to hear (some) informed discussion of the issue.

Meanwhile, up here in Connecticut, the insurance capital of the world, we have a problem.

Her name is Nancy Johnson. Anybody interested in helping solve this problem should email us.

Not affiliated with any political candidate.

Posted by: CT05 Admin on January 25, 2006 at 12:58 AM | PERMALINK

If and when the Democrats retake Congress
(or at least one chamber of it) the first thing
I hope they do is hold massive publicly televised
hearings on the cozy little world of the
insurance companies.
The only thing they seem to "insure" is their
own profits.
We in Louisiana since the aftermath of Katrina
have witnessed how worthless insurance can really
be. Homeonwners and business owners have had
to fight just to eek out a small settlement
on their claims. And there seems to be no
crueler joke ( or bigger mismomer) than
"business interruption insurance."
It would be poetic justice if the citizens
of Louisiana and Mississippi ( who have also
come to grief due to insurance company stalling
tactics) took out full page adds in newspapers
across the nation proclaiming: "ONLY CHUMPS
BUY HOMEOWNERS INSURANCE! DON'T LET THIS HAPPEN TO YOU!" and describe in painstaking
detail how badly they have been duped by the
very companies they thought were their allies.
The day of reckoning for these dishonest and
dissembling companies is coming. They better be
prepared to do some pretty big explaining. Karl
and George won't be around forever to defend them.

Posted by: anthony v. cuccia on January 25, 2006 at 4:08 AM | PERMALINK

Hey, its a healthcare policy that cuts out the middleman to save admin. Straight to the insurance companies who help struggling corporation with their benefits.

Posted by: McA on January 25, 2006 at 10:15 AM | PERMALINK
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Stephen Kriz-

You're right, my bad. Insurance companies create value by distributing risk over populations and over time. It's also true that insurance companies do not provide actuarily fair insurance, but extract wealth in the process of providing this valuable service.

They create wealth by identifying areas of expense and managing them - for example increasing spending on prenatal care and saving money down the road. This leads to better health outcomes and lower costs.

Except that they don't do that. So we have poorer health outcomes and higher costs.

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