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.
During all of my years of helping plan Cigna shareholder meetings, we had an unblemished string of non-events. Relatively few of the big-profit insurers have had to cope with contentious shareholder meetings. Those days are over.
If there is a group of people more anxious about how the Supreme Court will rule on the health care reform law than President Obama and the millions of Americans who are already benefiting from it, it is health insurance executives.
Now you know why more than 50 million of us are uninsured. It is not because most of those people are being irresponsible. Most of them either can't afford to buy coverage or can't buy it at any price.
One of the reasons I left my job in the health insurance industry was because I could not in good conscience continue to promote high-deductible plans, often marketed as "consumer-driven" plans, as wise choices for most Americans.
When insurers behave this way, they are demonstrating that they care more about their bottom lines than their policyholders. Which makes it all the more imperative for California voters to sign those petitions and vote for the ballot initiative this fall.
Despite the ceaseless spin, Vermont lawmakers last May demonstrated they could not be bought nor intimidated when they became the first in the nation to pass a bill that will probably establish a single-payer beachhead in the U.S.
Obamacare haters try to make us believe that the law will reduce "choice and competition" -- that insurers are competing vigorously to sign up Americans. But the world of health insurance doesn't operate that way -- and it never will without intervention.
Anyone who believes that American doctors call the shots when it comes to providing medical care for their insured patients is sadly mistaken. Insurance companies essentially have the power to make what amount to life and death decisions.
The administration should pay far more attention to what they have to say than to executives and lobbyists for Aetna and the rest of the industry who, take it from me, are more interested in their own best interests than in their customers.