Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Which kind of single-payer health insurance system would you like?

You have two choices. (A) Health4Some Corporation (a conglomerate formed by mergers of Aetna, Humana, Cygna, etc.). (B) Medicare4All (a single payer system run by the government).

Robert Reich unloads on the evils of alternative A.

The Supreme Court’s recent blessing of Obamacare has precipitated a rush among the nation’s biggest health insurers to consolidate into two or three behemoths.

The result will be good for their shareholders and executives, but bad for the rest of us – who will pay through the nose for the health insurance we need.

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Insurers are seeking rate hikes of 20 to 40 percent for next year because they think they already have enough economic and political clout to get them.

That’s not what they’re telling federal and state regulators, of course. They say rate increases are necessary because people enrolling in Obamacare are sicker than they expected, and they’re losing money.

Remember, this an industry with rising share values and wads of cash for mergers and acquisitions.

It also has enough dough to bestow huge pay packages on its top executives. The CEOs of the five largest for-profit health insurance companies each raked in $10 to $15 million last year.

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Which is why, ultimately, America will have to make a choice.

(If you answered A.) If we continue in the direction we’re headed we’ll soon have a health insurance system dominated by two or three mammoth for-profit corporations capable of squeezing employees and consumers for all they’re worth – and handing over the profits to their shareholders and executives.

(If you answered B.) The alternative is a government-run single payer system – such as is in place in almost every other advanced economy – dedicated to lower premiums and better care.

Time for plan B.

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