Who’s Making Money from Healthcare Reform?

Before I get too far into this post, let me be clear about a couple of assumptions.

1. I am an advocate of Healthcare Reform. I was disappointed in the bill that finally passed because I believe it was not a strong enough protection for consumers. Given that, I am glad we have a healthcare reform law on the books.

2. I believe that most consumers would benefit in the greatest possible way from a single payer system. This could be modeled on Medicare or utilize some other possibilities, but I think a single payer system is the only way we will ever get a healthcare system that truly meets the needs of most consumers and costs the least.

Given those assumptions, you will understand my reaction when I read a new article in FierceHealthPayer, a weekly newsletter for healthcare plan executives. If you are involved in the purchase of health insurance for your organization, the title of the article, Insurers Profit from Health Reform, will come as no surprise to you. Of course insurers are the primary ones who will profit from health reform in its current incarnation.

After dropping almost $90 million to oppose the health reform law, repeatedly claiming its provisions would raise costs and disrupt coverage, health insurers actually have benefited the most from the law, according to a Bloomberg Government report released Thursday.

The article goes on to explain that most of the increases in revenue are the result of these companies expanding into government programs. You see, even though Medicaid and Medicare are government programs, they are often administered by private insurance companies. With the expected expansion of the Medicaid program mandated by the Affordable Care Act, there should be even more income growth for insurance companies.

So who’s going to lose money on healthcare reform? Guess what….it’s us again. Those of us who purchase insurance in the private marketplace were subjected to 9% increases on average in 2011…increases aimed at covering the costs of the mandates of the healthcare reform law long before required by the law. That way, we absorb the costs and the insurance companies get to go on paying their executives outrageous salaries and making their profits.

I wonder what it will take for people to finally realize that healthcare and health insurance need not cost so much. I don’t expect it to happen as long as corporations control our government and our lawmakers. I know many folks believe the problem is just the opposite. Government should get out of the middle of the relationship between the healthcare provider and the consumer. Competition and market forces would take care of costs.

What do you think? Who will pay for care for the chronically ill . . . and the chronically mentally ill if we don’t all chip in to do it? Is there enough compassion in the marketplace to assure that children, the poor, and those unable to pay for health insurance because of mental illness will also receive good quality healthcare? Please share your thoughts. I would love some help in understanding how we can assure that we will all get the healthcare we need without spending half our income on health costs.

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