Lawrence, KS - Events Local News Groups Contact
Barack Obama vs. Harriet and Louise
By Indy Media / filmsforaction.org
Jun 15, 2009
It may not be as exciting as the Thrilla in Manila, but its outcome will have far more impact on the lives of tens of millions of families across the country. The story is straightforward. President Obama had stepped up to challenge the insurance industry in order to reform the health care system in the United States.

Specifically, he is proposing to create a public health insurance plan, like Medicare, that people would have the option to buy into. Ideally, this would ensure that everyone had a good health insurance option available to them and provide real competition to the existing private plans.

For the private insurers, competition is the crux of the problem. Insurers don't want to have to compete with a well-run public plan. That's not how they make money. The most effective route for a private insurer to make money is to avoid insuring people who get sick, not by providing good care for those who need it.

If workers and their employers had the option to buy into a well-run public plan, instead of dealing with the Aetna, Cigna and United Health types, tens of millions would take advantage of this option. In spite of the industry's propaganda, the public sector actually provides health insurance more efficiently than the private sector.

Medicare's administrative costs are equal to about 2 percent of what it pays out to providers. For private insurers the ratio over expenses to payments is typically over 15 percent. Blue Cross of North Carolina, which was prepared to take the lead in bashing President Obama's plan, boasts that its ratio is now under 20 percent. This compares to an expense to payout ratio of more than 25 percent earlier in the decade.

It is easy to see why private insurers have such high costs. Their top executives boast paychecks that run into the millions or even tens of millions of dollars. They have large marketing and advertising costs, and don't forget the dividends to shareholders. It is understandable that they would be upset about competing with a public plan that doesn't have these expenses.

The competition with a public plan would hit insurance industry profits in two ways. First, fewer customers means less profit. If 20 to 30 percent of the industry's customers migrated to a public plan, profits will drop by 20 to 30 percent, other things being equal.

But, it gets worse. In order to avoid losing even more customers, the private insurers will almost certainly have to lower their profit margins. As a result, they are likely to make less money even on the customers they are able to keep. The net effect could be a 50 percent, 60 percent - possibly even 70 percent - drop in profits. For the folks who profit by not paying for care, you're talking about an economic disaster.

The insurers are not about to take this threat to their profits quietly. They could lose hundreds of billions in profits over the next decade if they face competition from a robust public plan. They will get Harriet and Louise bulked up on steroids for this one, pushing every crazy scare story in the world. At the same time, they will be making promises (i.e. bribing) and threatening every member of Congress within their reach.

They will also enlist allies. The axis of evil in this story includes the pharmaceutical industry, the hospital lobby and highly paid medical specialists, all of whom worry that a successful public plan could reduce the size of their trough. As it stands, these providers are able to charge prices that are hugely out of line with what their counterparts receive elsewhere in the world.

If the US computer industry were like the US health care industry, we would be paying $1,000 for a bottom-end computer. Fortunately, we have competition in computers, so it's easy to find computers that sell for less than $400, but the health care industry does not want people in the United States to benefit from the same sort of competition in health care.

So, get ready for the show. Win or lose, the boys and girls in the insurance industry can be counted on for a real serious fight. But, the millionaires in the health industry are hugely out-numbered by the hundreds of millions who will benefit from serious health care reform. As Mohammed Ali might have said about the health insurance executives: "they too ugly to be champion."

By Dean Baker, TruthOut. Source: http://www.truthout.org/061509C

Read more from TruthOut: http://www.truthout.org/
0.0 ·
0
Trending Today
Globalization Makes No Sense
Chris Agnos · 21,563 views today · When I lived in San Francisco, I often would marvel at the movement of goods through the ports across the bay in Oakland. Full container ships would enter the bay one after...
Proof of Evolution That You Can Find on Your Body
4 min · 9,995 views today · Vestigial structures are evolution's leftovers — body parts that, through inheritance, have outlived the context in which they arose. Some of the most delightful reminders of...
Stunning Small Homes Form Part of a Communal Compound for Best Friends
Lighter Side · 6,973 views today · If you’re lucky enough to have longtime friends even as an adult, then you know probably already know how much it means to be able to spend time together. Maybe you even have a...
How Norway Avoided Becoming a Fascist State
George Lakey · 6,953 views today · Instead of falling to the Nazi party, Norway broke through to a social democracy. Their history shows us polarization is nothing to despair over.
The Most Astounding Fact about the Universe
3 min · 6,451 views today · This is Neil Degrasse Tyson's response when asked to describe the most astounding fact about the universe. Background music is the cinematic orchestra - To build a home.
Where the Term "Redneck" Came From
15 min · 4,060 views today · If you don't know this story, you'll never look at the word the same again.  This is just a window into the sometimes shocking, subversive and untold history of the United...
The Foiled Bomb Plot in Kansas That Didn't Make Trump's Terror List
5 min · 3,856 views today · When a plot by a pro-white militia to bomb a Somali mosque in Kansas was foiled by the FBI last October, the aborted conspiracy received little national coverage - nor did it...
The London Anarchist Group Squatting Mansions to Fight Homelessness
6 min · 3,722 views today · London squatting activists ANAL (Autonomous Nation of Anarchist Libertarians) are squatting empty multi-million pound buildings and opening them up to the homeless.
The Fire Within
Words by Sophie Scholl - Illustrations by Gavin Aung Than · 3,541 views today · Sophie Scholl (1921-1943) was a German activist who is famous for speaking out against the Nazi regime. Scholl was a member of a protest group called The White Rose, which...
Without Saying a Word This 6 Minute Clip From Samsara Will Make You Speechless
6 min · 3,097 views today · Can you put this video into words? It's a clip from the phenomenal documentary Samsara, directed by Ron Fricke, who also made Baraka.  If you're interested in watching...
To Change Everything, Start Everywhere
8 min · 2,372 views today · To Change Everything, Start Everywhere! The case for complete self-determination—a guide for the furious, the curious, and the pure of heart. To Change Everything: An...
Your Lifestyle Has Already Been Designed (The Real Reason For The Forty-Hour Workweek)
David Cain · 1,911 views today · Well I’m in the working world again. I’ve found myself a well-paying gig in the engineering industry, and life finally feels like it’s returning to normal after my nine months...
From Sanctuary City to Liberated City
Frank Lara · 1,820 views today · In just one week, with several strokes of a pen, Trump unleashed upon the working class in the U.S. an attack not seen in decades. From his attack on the flawed Affordable Care...
Transition From Caterpillar to Butterfly as Analogy for Social Change
4 min · 1,772 views today · An exceprt from Crossroads: Labor Pains of a New Worldview in which Dr. Bruce Lipton talks about the fractal nature of reality and compares the current global awakening and the...
Redneck Revolt Presents: A Message to the Patriot Movement
6 min · 1,724 views today · Over the past few weeks, Redneck Revolt has been communicating with a former member of a III% Patriot Militia based out of Ohio. Peter made contact with our organization after...
Voices of Standing Rock
49 min · 1,708 views today · Short stories told by water protectors at Standing Rock, North Dakota. Part 1 - Introduction: Since mid-August 2016, thousands have set up camp near the Standing Rock Sioux...
10 Words Every Girl Should Learn
Soraya Chemaly · 1,301 views today · "Stop interrupting me."  "I just said that." "No explanation needed." In fifth grade, I won the school courtesy prize. In other words, I won an award for being polite. My...
Michael Moore Wants to Help You Find Your Next Anti-Trump Protest
Sarah Ruiz-Grossman · 1,256 views today · The Resistance Calendar lists upcoming rallies across the country.
How a Lack of Touch Is Destroying Men
Mark Green · 1,114 views today · Why Men Need More Platonic Touch in their Lives
The Lessons of Standing Rock
Michael Emero · 1,048 views today · In mid-November of 2016, I was a Water Protector at Standing Rock. At first my goal was to play investigative journalist; documenting then writing about every detail for my...
Load More
What's Next
Like us on Facebook?
Barack Obama vs. Harriet and Louise