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HEALTH CARE: Policy shouldn’t be so expensive

Letter by Ward Neils, Tacoma on July 18, 2011 at 10:09 am with 10 Comments »
July 18, 2011 12:20 pm

I want to buy health insurance. But I can’t afford it. Why?

My wife and I are in our late 50s. If I want to buy health insurance I’m required to buy acupuncture, chiropractic, gynecology, pre- and post-natal coverage and several other coverages I have no interest in.

Why can’t I buy an insurance plan that suits me and not the social plans of the state?
Why can’t I work with an insurance company to give me a cafeteria of options which I want and am willing to pay for without the state dictating what I can buy?

I have no health insurance now because the state dictates what I can buy, and I can’t afford it. Why can’t I just buy a catastrophic insurance where I pay the first $15,000? It should be between me and the insurance company, and I can sue if it doesn’t perform. Why is the state involved at all?

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  1. commoncents says:

    shared risk…without it what you are proposing would be too expensive.

  2. The state isn’t involved to the degree you think Ward.
    Try some research, then rethink things and ask why you are paying an insurance company in the first place.

  3. aislander says:

    Don’t take advice from those whose solution is a government takeover of health insurance. The state is involved because a number of interested parties asked it to be, and politicians, always interested in expanding their power, wanted it to be. The major players in the insurance industry asked for regulation in exactly the same way (and for the same reason) that the meatpacking industry giants invited Federal regulation early in the Twentieth Century–to drive out smaller competitors and institutionalize their dominance of the market. It is called corporatism and rent seeking…

  4. itwasntmethistime says:

    There is no separate pool for healthy people who can afford a large deductible because those are the people subsidizing everybody else. You might think it’s your right to fatten up if yo want, but your diabetes is costing the rest of us money.

  5. “The state is involved because a number of interested parties asked it to be,”

    “Don’t take advice from those whose solution is a government takeover of health insurance”

    The lies never seem to stop flowing from this one do they???

  6. aislander, what history books do you read, if any? Or do you make up everything you write?

    I just referenced three good histories of the 1906 laws that included the Pure Food and Drug Act and the 1906 Meat Inspection Act, which tightened the USDA’s oversight of meat production.

    There had been several meat inspection acts before, but this one mandated continuous inspection and was fought vigorously in Congress by the mid-western meat packing industry. Most eastern states already ahd similar laws, and the basis of the law was from Kosher inspections along the east cosast.

    Both of these laws were enacted following a flurry of investigative journalism about the quality of meat from the midwest. The publication of Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle, with its vivid description of the conditions of the meat packing industry, as well as a series of articles by Samuel Hopkins Adams published in Collier’s Weekly caused Congress to act against the lobbying of the meat packing industry.

    What is true about insurance is that insurance companies successfully lobbied Congress in 1945 to be exempt from anti-trust rules. It is a true “states rights” victory by conservative Democrats, Dixiecrats and Republicans. Dems have been trying to get rid of the exemption since Clinton to no avail so there could be some national standards.

    The public demanded a definition of a “basic health plan” in Washington State so that the plans could be portable, as required, and premiums could be compared across companies. Various providers as wel las consumers demanded so-called “non-traditional” health care like massage therapy, acupuncture and others tpo be part of basic health in Washington not to decrease competition, but to increase the range of services provided.

    Your statement that the requirement for a definition of basic coverage is to cut down on competition is baloney. The anti-trust exemption does that, with big insurance companies gobbling up the smaller ones by charging exhorbitant rates when they become a monopoly in states that are not so tightly regulated as Washington State is.

  7. tuddo, you know the answer to your question already, don’t you?

  8. aislander says:

    I’m talking about the motivation behind the up-front deals. There is no doubt that the major meat packers lobbied for regulation and, in fact, helped write it. They could comply with the regs with little impact on unit prices, but the smaller companies got screwed…

    I know people in the insurance industry, and they support my contention. The fact that so few companies are left to sell health insurance in Washington validates what I have said…

  9. Ward – since you possibly smoke or drink, I want a special deal because I do neither and don’t want to pay for the risk incured for your bad habits…..but I do.

    I don’t want to pay for the risk involved with your driving habits that is factored into my policy. Although neither of us gets tickets, I see you cruise by me on the freeway when I’m driving the limit.

    Ward – your problem is with the insurance industry who controls everything including some key Democratic Congresspersons and Senators in their home states.

  10. aislander, the 1906 legislation was primarily taken from laws supported by and with technical assistance by Kosher butchers in New York, Boston and Charlestion, S.C. , not mid-west meat packers who lobbied hard against the bill.

    I would love to read an alternative history It may even open my eyes that all of the regular history books have had it wrong all these years, and Congress’ own legislative hostory on this is wrong. Please share where you learned that meat packers helped write the legislation and lobbied for it.

    I would also like your sources on the reasons why Washington State has so few insurance providers (It has many more than most states). Almost half of the insurance markets have just one dominant private for-profit provider. Most have only one other that captures more than 10% of market share.

    Consolidation was the name of the game all over the USA in the decade between 2001 and 2010, with the multi-state providers gobbling up smaller companies.

    It had nothing to do with states setting minimum standards for health insurance.

    Data and analysis from the American Medical Association shows that the insurance market is “highly concentrated” in 30 states, meaning one provider has at least 42% share and all other providers have less than 10% each. (Washington is not considered concentrated).

    The leading insurer in each state has an average of 47% of all market share in the state where they lead. Virginia, with the states second-most lax regulation has one dominant insurer with 62% share. Maine, the least regulated, has one with 74% share.

    Technical advisors from industry often assist in writing legislation, (Republicans would not have it any other way), so I don’t doubt there were industry advisors assisting in writing Washington’s insurance regulations. However, the basic services in the standard minimum plan in Washington State had many public hearings, and the public who provided testimony wanted pre-natal care, accupuncture and other procedures included in that basic plan.

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