The Frog, the Scorpion, and Health Reform

Steve Moses, our Fellow on Healthcare Policy, produces a daily commentary from his organization, Center for Long-Term Care Reform.  Today’s references one of my favorite stories – The Frog, the Scorpion, and Health Reform.

Frog, being a nice guy, offers scorpion a lift across the pond. Scorpion stings frog half way across and they both die. Moral: nature will out.

The health insurance industry sold out “risk assessment,” a fundamental principle of true insurance, to get a seat at the health reform table. Instead, it became the meal.

In a nutshell, the industry agreed to take all comers, no matter how sick, in exchange for a promise that government would force everyone to buy health insurance.

But government stung the industry by reneging on that promise. Now there’s a good chance everyone will lose through higher costs, inferior care, and deepening deficits.

Here’s the story:

Insurance industry assails health care legislation By Robert Pear, New York Times. Oct 12, 2009 The health insurance industry plans to release information from a report prepared by the PricewaterhouseCoopers accounting firm that indicates insurance premiums could go up by an average of $2,900 more per family by 2016 if the Senate Finance Committee health care bill is passed. “The overall impact will be to increase the cost of private insurance coverage for individuals, families and businesses above what these costs would be in the absence of reform,” said AHIP president, Karen M. Ignagni. While insurance companies would be required to take on subscribers, regardless of their health conditions, healthier people would delay purchase of health coverage. Premiums would have to be increased to cover expenses. New taxes on “Cadillac policies” and on insurers would further drive up premiums, as would large cuts from the growth of Medicare.

New bill would raise rates, says insurance group Report issued before key committee vote By Ceci Connolly, Washington Post. Oct 12, 2009

Source: class=”mceItemHidden”> AHCA / NCAL Gazette – Monday, October 12, 2009

LTC Comment: If you’d like an excellent source for news and analysis of the health reform debate from a free-market, true insurance point of view, check out the Galen Institute’s new “Health Reform Hub.” Here’s yesterday’s press release announcing the resource:

ALEXANDRIA, VA. OCTOBER 13, 2009 – The Galen Institute today is launching a new website – Health Reform Hub – which will serve as a central access point for the latest news and information about market-based ideas for health reform.

“The American people are focused as never before on the details of proposals to solve problems facing our health sector,” said Galen Institute President Grace-Marie Turner. “We have created the Health Reform Hub as a one-stop site for access to the latest news and analysis about the reform debate, particularly the patient-centered proposals that have received far too little attention in the current discussion. Our multi-media site also will provide new ways for people and policymakers to engage in the debate over policies that will dramatically affect the health care choices of every American.”

Key Features of Health Reform Hub:

* Links to the latest health reform news and information, including news articles, commentaries, blog postings, studies and more

* Up-to-the-minute audio and video broadcasts from leading market-based health policy experts

* Opportunities for visitors to enter and create on-line communities and discuss health reform solutions

* Research and analyses produced by Galen Institute experts, Health Policy Consensus Group members, and others who are committed to a patient-centered approach to health reform

The Health Reform Hub is a project of the Galen Institute, a non-profit research organization that works to promote ideas that advance individual freedom, consumer choice, and competition in the health sector. The Galen Institute also facilitates the work of the Health Policy Consensus Group, an affiliation of health policy experts from the leading market-oriented think tanks.


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