Skip to main content

Whether deserving or not, President Obama’s name is now synonymous with change.  However, associating the US health insurance industry with progressive change is more of a challenge.  Which is why it was so surprising last week when AHIP, the industry’s trade group, signed a letter to the President committing to reduce the growth in health care expenditures and seemingly reversing its prior stance of resistance to reformhttp://query.nytimes.com/....

Despite the potential public good that the agreement could provide, it seemed strange to see the for-profit health insurance companies endorsing measures that would explicitly cut into their profits.  This would have been a welcomed change from their typical profit maximizing-care minimizing calculus.  However, once again, profits have proved to be more powerful than progress.

In backtracking from the stated commitment to reduce growth in health care expenditures by 1.5% per year, which the Obama administration projected could save $2 trillion over 10 years, representatives of the health insurance industry have contended that President Obama misrepresented the agreementhttp://www.nytimes.com/....  While they acknowledge that controlling costs and ensuring sustainability of the health care system is a long term goal, apparently they refuse to be accountable to specific benchmarks or numbers.  As the initial commitment was symbolic and without specific plans to reduce the growth in expenditures, this should not have been a surprise.  

The truth remains unchanged - profit motives in health care have been unable to control costs in the past and cannot be relied upon for necessary improvements in our health care system.  Managed care has failed at controlling growth in costs; with Medicare Advantage, private plans competing with traditional fee for service Medicare have required overpayments from the government to stay afloat, which will lead to a wasted $11 billion in 2009http://www.commonwealthfund.org/...; and while shifting costs to providers with paperwork, prior authorizations, and claims denials has been profitable for the insurance industryhttp://content.healthaffairs.org/..., health care continues to grow more expensive and less accessible.  And a discussion of costs misses the well documented negative impact that profit motives have on quality of carehttp://www.pnhp.org/....  

We need real change when it comes to our health care system.  While hospitals, health practitioners, the pharmaceutical and device companies, and other major players will need to come together to identify and address areas of waste within the current system, it is clear that the profit driven health insurance industry cannot be relied upon to control costs and improve the quality of the health care that Americans receive.  It is not in their financial best interest.  And when it comes to maximizing profits for their investors, they are never going to change.

Originally posted to Dr Fox on Wed May 20, 2009 at 08:44 AM PDT.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site