Thursday, August 6, 2009

Health insurance companies show big profits, and spending like crazy on lobbying

Editor's Note: The RoundUp has arrived at one of those philosophical quandaries we all come to periodically: Why is it, again, that our country's health care system is profit-based and not people-based? Lots of citizens are falling thru the cracks, can't afford it anymore, or just outright being denied coverage. All the while the private for-profit monopoly providers are getting bankrolled to the hilt. Best answer gets a free bottle of aspirin, those little pink St. Joseph tablets that are good for the heart and blood pressure.

The top five earning (health) insurance companies averaged profits of $1.56 billion in 2008 and reported spending an average of "more than 18 percent of their revenues on marketing, administration, and profits." That year, CEO compensation for these companies ranged from $3 million to $24 million.
[snip] Despite lower than expected profits, insurers are not holding back. The industry already set records from January to March, “when health-care firms and their lobbyists spent money at the rate of $1.4 million a day” on campaigns designed to influence the health care reform legislation now moving through Congress.

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Sources: Families USA and others


Anonymous said...

During the years Peter Stern and a few others have written about this lobbying many times on various blogs and in newspaper articles. No one ever seems to listen or care.

Gov. Perry and lawmakers are responsible for all this.

We need laws that prohibit wealthy special interest campaign contributions.

The only way that will happen is if taxpayers rise up enmasse to demand it from the legislature.

Anonymous said...

I kind of figured it wouldn’t be long before this type of article would show up here. Nothing fair or balanced spoken here.

As bad as those figures sound, I’d rather see the insurance companies in charge than the government. Yes, we need legislation to reign in the excesses of the insurance companies. What we don’t need is more socialism and government control along with mega-spending (printing) more millions we don’t have. Of course, they can always raise taxes on the rich ;)

Let’s see, Obama and his minions have control of the Banks, Auto companies, and now they’re shooting for US Medical Care industry. They won’t stop, America wake up!

Medic! said...

No. 1, agreed. No. 2, you are a useless fossilized corporatist republican. The public plan option is the only real option.

The health insurance industry is very afraid of the public plan, opposing it tooth and nail, because it will provide same, possibly better coverage, at lower premiums. In other words, it will usher in real competition – what they are afraid of most.

Private insurers now hold absolute monopolies in some regions of the US. As a group they hold absolute monopoly over the country. They can raise premiums as high as the eye can see, nonstop; they can deny coverage for preexisting conditions, they can deny claims at the drop of a hat (part of the company policy to bolster profits), they instruct doctors what procedures they will or won't cover (regardless of what's best for the patient). They are heartless, soulless corporations.

It's time we had a REAL change for better health care and MUCH more affordable coverage. If the private for-profit sector refuses to do it, then our government should force it on them, for the general welfare of the nation. The Rough Rider and monopoly-buster himself, Teddy Roosevelt, would have done no less. You go, Teddy!

Katie Moore said...

There has been much media attention paid to the fight over health care lately. Both sides of the argument are energized and have been scheduling rallies and protests all over the nation. Even our local congressman can be seen on all the major news channels discussing the issue. The one thing those opposed to the plan forget to mention is the individuals who are currently suffering under the current system.

Health care reform is not about economic numbers that seem intangible. This is not about bank bailouts on Wall Street. It is about you, your friends and your neighbors.

It is about the autistic child whose mother must work two jobs just to pay for his therapy. It is about your self-insured friend who must decide if he can afford to do the tests his doctor recommends even though he is already paying $1,000 a month for inadequate health coverage. It is about your little sister who was recently laid off and now has found out that she is expecting but her husband’s insurance will not cover her because being pregnant is a “preexisting condition”.

Every year our government spends billions of dollars to keep us protected from terrorism and foreign threats. Now is the time for our government to start helping Americans protect their health as well.

Anonymous said...

Right on #2!! We cannot have Chicago thugocracy perpetuated any further...Medic(?) obviously knows very little about what really goes on with insurance companies...and what is wrong with making a profit in a capitalist society...Mirroring what #2 sez, there are changes that need to be made but to the extent of overhauling EVERYTHING...over my dead body which is what is being advocated...also for Medic/#1 if you're approaching 60+..READ the bills!!!

Anonymous said...

I believe that the government politically posturing against the insurance industry.

What I mean is that the government can not afford to run another health insurance plan successfully, so it is trying to "coerce" the industry into revamping current healths plans to make them more affordable with greater coverage.

What better way is there to force change from within the industry than to promote a government-run health care program, one that would "sink its teeth" into the profits of an already over-bloated and greedy for profit industry? (rhetorical question)

It is only my own belief on this issue, but I think I am accurate.

BTW, #2, you can thank the Bush administration for paving the way into the government's socialist bail-out and ownership campaign of our major industries. Without Bush, Obama could never have done this to Americans.

Now, there is no stopping our government.

Someone mentioned Stern here, and I know that writer also proclaimed for the past decade that Americans need to "open their eyes" to see what is happening to the U.S. we once loved and cherished. #1 is right that few listened to him.

For years the corporate and industial sectors wanted hands-off Capitalism when the going was good.

When times got tough they cried to the government for bail-outs and then angrily disputed the control "buttons" pushed by Washington on monitoring the failing businesses.

The business sectors greedily wanted it all and now the government wants it all. In any case, most Americans are doomed financially.

Bottom-line is that we Americans have lost our representative democratic government, lost the framework of a well-defined, working Capitalistic environment and we will not get it back any time soon, if ever.

Obama has suckered Americans and so did Bush. No longer is this a Democrat vs. GOP issue. It is the People vs. the 2-Party System.

Anonymous said...

Katie, most of your post is typical liberal bleeding-heart dribble, I’d expect of pro-Obama Care types. Most of the examples you give are about people who made bad decisions.

BTW “self-insured” means no insurance at all, so there’d be no premiums. Being self-insured is a choice made by those that have the means to pay for their care or irresponsible cheap people (mostly young) that want to roll the dice and hope they don’t get sick. That group and the illegal aliens make up most of the claimed 40 million uninsured.

Fact: No one in this country is denied necessary health care!

Medic! said...

I find it ironic that the men and women who fight for and protect our way of life in America, including our private, for profit health care system, that many of them ultimately are denied coverage by the same private system or receive care from the alternative socialized system, the Veterans Administration.

Socialized military, socialized VA, socialized agribusiness, farmers and ranchers, socialized pharmaceutical industry, socialized medicare, socialized social security, socialized hospitals, doctors and emergency rooms, socialized multi-nationals, socialized CEOs, socialized health care for congress men and women (my taxes pay for their wonderful private coverage), socialized health care for our local county officials and employees (my taxes pay for theirs too), socialized highways and byways, socialized banks and mortgage industry, heavily socialized construction industry, socialized military-industrial complex, socialized public eduction, universities, teacher pay and health care, ad infinitum.

Why is such a big deal being made about one little ole public health plan option for Americans, when we are already such a heavily socialized nation? Ponder that quandary.

Anonymous said...

Obama and the Democrats MUST NOT SUCCEED! That's the Republican chant dujouer. What could be more pointless and absurd than that?

Anonymous said...

Here is the conundrum question the free market nutcases face. Would I rather be screwed by the government or would I rather be screwed by the private sector? In terms of health care, they would clearly rather be screwed and lied to by the private sector. I, for one, would like to be screwed by the government for a change -- if it forces the disease and sickness management companies (we don't have a "health care system") to stop annually increasing insurance premiums 3 times faster than wages and benefits (fact). Maybe what it will take is for some of the free market fanatics to lose a loved one or two to the already existing "death panels" in the private sector accounting offices. Annonymous # 2 is a perfect example of a person who is abused by the private sickness care system, but because of his good-intentioned values, cannot admit his own role in it. We need solutions, not mindless free markets blather.