What's worse, having a government bureaucrat between you and proper health care, or having a corporate bureaucrat? When health insurance companies' allegiances shift away from people who need health care and toward pleasing their investors, you get the kinds of runaway health care costs that we have in the United States today. In a day of rampant greed and immorality, I don't hold out much hope that a government directed, single-payer health care plan will be any better than what we currently have, but I'm starting to think that it couldn't be worse, either.
Have your costs for health care seemed to outpace your standard of living over the last decade or more? There are several contributing reasons, but one of the greatest is that greed for profit has seeped into the health insurance industry until it has become a flood.
Medical loss ratios measure how much insurance companies lose to administrative costs. In the 1990's 95% of costs paid for actutal health care in early 1990's, so the medical loss ratio was only about 5%. These ratios have risen until now nearly 20% of insurance premiums go to cover administrative costs. With some individual companies, the administrative excess is nearing 25%. In contrast, according to Wendell Potter, who was an executive at CIGNA insurance for 15 years, medicare has only 3% administrative overhead costs. Mr. Potter, who spoke with Bill Moyers recently, left CIGNA after his guilt got the best of him.
In days gone by, Potter told Moyers, health insurers cared most about those they insured. Now, they care most about their bottom line. Trimming true insurance in order to appease shareholders and to pay out gigantic bonuses to executives has begun to ruin not only these companies but also health care in America. Investors in health insurance stocks have primarily become large institutions, to include major, demanding hedge funds. Insurers often feel intense heat from such investors, who think they have not denied enough claims. It is becoming standard fare for insurers, bowing to these investors, to raise premiums so high that employers can no longer afford to insure their employees, or the insurers simply drop large groups of policy holders outright. The cancer that is destroying Wall Street is bringing the health industry down with it.
The main problem, however, is not that health insurers are greedy. The main problem is that so are most politicians. The solution, therefore, can not be simply to turn the reins of health care over to government. The solution has to be for Americans to stop being dictated to by their elite overlords, but rather to demand fairness and integrity. We should demand insurance only from companies that care about people instead of profits. And in order to get the health care regulation that we need, we should sweep the floor of congress clean with the broom of any angry vote.
Neither single-payer health insurance, nor any other form of social direction of health care dollars will work any better than the debauchery that exists in the America's private health insurance industry. Honesty and integrity are our only hope.