It’s Way Past Time We Stopped Deluding Ourselves About Private Health Insurers
by Wendell Potter, 8/2/15, published in the Huffington Post
Excerpt (see full text here ):
“I didn’t think it was possible for me to get more disgusted with the industry I used to be a cheerleader for, but I was wrong.
“Health insurers—more specifically, the big for-profit health insurers that want to get even bigger through two pending mega-mergers (Anthem wants to buy Cigna and Aetna wants to buy Humana)—once again are demonstrating that nothing—absolutely nothing—is more important to them than making their rich shareholders even richer . . .
“The truth: Because we have many private insurers, none of them—not even the big ones like Aetna—have enough leverage with drug companies and huge hospital systems to strike a decent bargain on behalf of their customers. Yet we continue to be deceived by industry propagandists like I used to be and hold as a tenet of faith that competition among our many insurers will somehow magically control costs. (What insurers actually do is try to predict how much they think medical costs will rise in the future and jack up their premiums a few percentage points above that to ensure a profit.)
“Folks, we are guilty of magical thinking. We’ve fallen for insurers’ deception and misdirection, hook, line and sinker. And, to the financial benefit of the industry’s executives and institutional investors, many of us can’t be persuaded that we are being duped. Meanwhile, the shareholders of the big for-profits are laughing all the way to the bank. Every single day . . . “