Letter: A Health Care Opportunity

Here's a Letter to the Editor to the Corvallis Gazette-Times by MVHCA Vice-Chair Tim Roach

December 01, 2015 5:00 am

Our nation's largest health insurer — UnitedHealth — is seriously considering pulling out of Obamacare as early as 2017 (BloombergBusiness, Nov. 19). The insurer has lost millions and anticipates losses of $500 million in 2016. The word is Anthem and Aetna are in a similar circumstance.

What happened? Insurers agreed to cover 10 categories of health care benefits; accept higher cost individuals; limit excess administrative costs and profits, and submit premium increases to insurance regulators for public scrutiny.

Thus the Affordable Care Act was crafted to keep premiums down and require greater cost sharing by patients. Government subsidies were provided to assist lower-income individuals. And when that was still not enough, insurers leveraged narrow provider networks to contract for cheaper medical services, and increased deductibles, shifting more of the costs to patients.

Guess what? It isn’t working — for insurers or patients! Congress created an administratively complex system that has made it almost impossible for insurers to offer a product that meets the required basic plan and has affordable premiums. Additionally, the combination of premiums and deductibles are pricing many patients out of health care. So now insurers are beginning to back out!

Well, that’s fine, because it offers the opportunity of replacing for-profit insurers with a financing plan designed for patient care, as is the case in almost all other developed countries around the world. A well-designed, publicly funded health care program would restore choices and make health care available to everyone. Health Care for ALL!


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Healthcare-NOW! Names The Worst Health Insurance Company of 2013

The 2013 Award for Profiteering and Deceit in the Private Health Insurance Industry goes to… UnitedHealth for paying its CEO, Stephen Hemsley, $49 million in 2012.

The results:
37% – UnitedHealth
30% – Humana for charging women over 50% more than men for the same insurance plan.
27% – Anthem Blue Cross for predatory premium increases.
6% – Moda Health for paying $40 million for naming rights to the Portland Trailblazers arena.

Among CEOs, healthcare CEOs receive the highest median pay at $11.1 million. There are thousands of insurance companies, but the seven largest publicly traded health plans alone are paid their CEOs a collective $87 million.

Under a single-payer health plan, health coverage would be offered as a public good to all, administered by civil servants who will not siphon millions of dollars meant for patient care into their personal bank accounts. So we could use that $87 million in wasted money on CEOs to pay for as many as 8,700 hip replacements.

Full article here.