Health Insurers' "Rape" of America

03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

It is no surprise that America's health insurers came out with a report that took a 180 degree turn 24 hours before the Senate Finance Committee's voted on its health reform legislation. This report said that such a bill will actually increase premiums for all insureds. The basis for the claim, according to published reports, is that there will not be enough additional (millions) insureds pursuant to the mandate in the bill that all Americans must buy insurance to offset costs to insurance companies; in particular, because the penalties will be so low for those who do not wish to buy insurance that insurance companies will not be able to stay in business without raising premiums.

Let's back up a moment. What insurers are not telling every single American is that the regulations in the legislation placed upon the entities that provide health care coverage--like that no pre-existing condition will bar coverage; that there will be a cap on out-of-pocket expenses; that there will be no ceiling to cover medical care and treatment; and that an insurer cannot rescind coverage once care has been rendered--will expose insurance companies to paying more for claims than before, which, in turn, will reduce the bottom line, profits, and bonuses to insurance company executives. The only way to make up for these additional costs is to . . . raise premiums! This doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out. But, the insurers don't tell the American public that this is the reason premiums must go up; instead, they say that, at least with the Senate Finance Committee bill, there won't be enough insureds.

The insurance companies also fail to tell the American public that the reason they can raise premiums when they want to, and to a level that will maximize profits, is that there is no real competition to what they will charge. That is why a public option (or whatever you want to call it) is a necessary part of any bill that gets to Obama's desk. We Americans need a mechanism that has teeth to keep premium costs in place through competition in the market place. The public option as a choice for all does precisely this.

If we want to believe the insurance industry study that just came out, then we must necessarily believe that, once more, insurers feel empowered to "rape" all Americans when it comes to charging us what they want when they want for reasons that don't stand up to scrutiny. Isn't it about time that every single American who is concerned about health care as the sine qua non of being an American stand up and be counted once and for all and tell insurers, "enough is enough"?

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