Almost all of the publicly traded health insurers reported big increases in revenue and profits last year. The big winners have been the top executives of those companies, led by Mark Bertolini, CEO of Aetna, the nation's third largest health insurer.
If you relied on the Washington media for your news and information about health care, you'd think that insurance companies would never have considered sending policy discontinuation notices to their policyholders until forced to do so by Obamacare.
The truth these politicians want to obscure is that Obamacare is protecting their constituents from buying coverage that provides little to no shield against financial ruin. And that protection is something the insurance industry wants to get rid of.
I've often said that the Affordable Care Act is the end of the beginning of reform. Starting tomorrow, October 1, 2014, that law will signify the beginning of the end of the health insurance industry as we know it.
Health policy experts have long contended that one of the key reasons the Medicare program will eventually run out of money is because of the outsized influence lobbyists for health special interests have in Washington.
Some critics of the reform law are suggesting that if the big companies aren't willing to sell policies on all the exchanges, Obamacare is somehow fatally flawed. But I think we'll all be just as well off if the big companies stay out of the individual and small group market.
There is an age-old tradition in this country: if you don't like a law and can't get rid of it, look for a loophole. That's what some companies that don't want to comply with an important Obamacare requirement have done, and it appears they've hit pay dirt.
While all companies are required to report their federal lobbying and Political Action Committee expenditures, that money is just a fraction of what they often spend in the political arena to protect their profits.
When you're shopping for health insurance, wouldn't it be great if you could find out every insurer's claim denial rate? And how much each one spent on lobbying and advertising -- and how much they paid their CEO?
If Aetna does, in fact, hike premiums by more than 100 percent for some of its customers, as CEO Mark Bertolini suggested, no doubt part of that money will go to covering his shockingly lucrative paycheck.
One of the most ill-advised promises President Obama made during the health care reform debate was this: "If you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan." He should have known better.
It's complicated -- so complicated that unless you are a reader of obscure insurance industry newsletters, you've probably never heard about this, even though it has the potential to cause the collapse of the exchanges and completely circumvent the intent of Congress.
The next time you hear a candidate tell you how great it will be when insurers can sell their products across state lines, be aware that they already can. They just don't have the slightest interest in doing so.
One of the reform law's most important provisions -- the one that that insurance firms and Wall Street despise most -- is the one that sets the minimum allowable medical loss ratio, effective last year, at 80 percent for policies sold to individuals and small businesses.
Don't pay any attention to the votes and rhetoric coming out of Washington. Health care reform can turn out to be very profitable indeed for some of the GOP's biggest benefactors -- the giant insurance companies.
The President was led to believe that insurance industry leaders would do their best to get their Republican friends to support reform if he would agree to the mandate and drop the public option. The problem for the President was that industry executives could not deliver any Republican votes.
If you think the idea of privatizing Medicare has gone away, that the health insurance industry has thrown in the towel on one of its biggest goals, there was fresh evidence last week that you would be wrong.