Monday, March 30, 2009

Who Can We Thank?

Our lawmakers are currently investigating health insurance companies' out-of-network benefit programs. Said Senator Jay Rockefeller (yes, those Rockefellers), "It's scamming. It's fraud."

One insurance company, UnitedHealth has already forked over $400 million this year as a result of a settlement with the American Medical Association and an agreement with the Attorney General of New York.

I'm not taking a position for either party. It could be that the insurance companies are in fact conspiring to improve profit margins. But it also seems just as likely that the lawmakers are pursuing this as part of a greater scheme to eventually subject the health care industry to stringent regulation. At this point, I have not learned enough to have an opinion.

But I do have an opinion about $400 million in unforeseen, and largely unusual expenses. Healthcare is all about people - the insured. I'm relatively certain that the AMA as well as the NY A.G. Andrew Cuomo have the people in their best interests as they pursue these actions against health insurance companies. But I always follow the money: In this case, who gets hurt? 

You can bet that the insurance companies aren't batting an eye. Their coffers will be quickly replenished through higher premiums from people like you and I during the next contract renewal. And so I ask, Senator Rockefeller, AMA, Mr. Cuomo, please, stop helping us so much. 

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