One way for Aetna to satisfy Wall Street was to begin shifting more and more of the cost of health care -- and health insurance -- to their customers. That meant that sick policyholders in particular would be paying more out of their own pocket for their care. Our marketing folks came up with an almost Orwellian name for this cost shifting: "consumer-driven health care."
In coming weeks, we can expect the Republican-controlled Congress to push two Obamacare bills that would hike profits for some businesses. What we can't expect, from either Republicans or Democrats, unfortunately, is any effort to help families, even those with insurance, to stay out of bankruptcy court because of mounting medical bills.
The first time I blew the whistle on health insurance companies was during a Senate Commerce Committee hearing in June 2009. Last Wednesday, almost five years later, I appeared before that committee again to give a progress report on how Americans have been benefiting since Congress enacted reforms in 2010 that changed the way insurance companies operate.
Because of a provision in the Affordable Care Act allowing parents to keep children on their family policies until they turn 26, 6.6 million young adults are now insured. But beneficial as the reform law has been to millions of families, it hasn't been of help to young people in families with uninsured parents.