As cited in the ACC News Digest, New York Times reported earlier this month that Massachusetts insurance regulators rejected nearly 9 of 10 rate increases requested by the state’s health insurers. In the AP Insurance Commissioner Joseph Murphy said the proposed rate increases included “excessive increases and rates unreasonable relative to the benefits provided.” Insurance companies argued that “caps on their charges are justified only if there are similar caps on the costs that healthcare providers — such as doctors and hospital networks — charge them.” The Los Angeles Times quoted Patrick Johnston, president of the California Association of Health Plans, as saying that “in the run-up to last weekend’s vote on healthcare reform, much of the debate painted health insurance companies as villains.” Using an anecdote involving funnels, Johnston added that “as the cost of the ingredients going into the top of the funnel gets higher” — payments to physicians and hospitals, “medicines, medical equipment, labs and tests,” etc. – “health insurance gets more expensive,” but “rate regulation is a distraction that avoids the difficult task of driving down the cost of medical care.”

So, to summarize, the left says, “Ah, health reform at last,” the right says, “You call this health reform?” and the insurers say, “Let the fee increases begin.” But no one really wants to put on the haz-mat suits and muck around in the swamp of root causes.

I see only one way out: Stay healthy, people.


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