After months of publicly supporting health care reform, insurers are warning Congress that under the Baucus health care bill, “the cumulative increases in the cost of a typical family policy…will be approximately $20,700 more than it would be under the current system.”
The industry has issued a new report arguing that the weak personal responsibility requirement, taxes on health care providers, spending reductions in Medicare and taxes on high-value health plans will increase “the cost of coverage for both single and family policies in the individual, small group, large group, and self-funded insurance markets.”
In other words, the insurance industry is threatening to raise rates by 111% if they don’t get what they want from Congress. Granted, it’s been a while since I took criminal law, but that sort of language has the distinct, sulphurous odor of extortion to me. On the bright side, at least the insurance industry has finally been forced to show its true colors. No more feigned concern about accessibility or false assurances of affordability in the event of a catastrophic illness; Karen Ignangi, president of AHIP, has pulled off the industry’s mask of social responsibility, revealing yet another “vampire squid” greedily waving its tentacles at the prospect of unregulated mandates. Eat your heart out, Tony Soprano.
Why the not-so-veiled threat now? Maybe the industry senses a shift in the momentum for the public option and is panicking ahead of the Senate vote tomorrow. Stories like this one certainly don’t help their cause any:
Baby Alex is a happy, adorable, big baby. And now at three months old, the family’s insurance company says he’s not eligible for coverage.
Alex eats well, is growing fast and has no pre–existing conditions. But his mom Kelli says their insurance company says he’s just too big. “Insurance standards say if he’s above 95 percent he’s uninsurable.”
Because of his size, Alex was turned down for health insurance, his height and weight put him in the 99th percentile according to CDC guidelines.
Kelli says it’s ridiculous, “It’s frustrating, it’s very frustrating.”
Dr. Speedie at Rocky Mountain Health Plans says all babies are evaluated for insurance the same way. “In children it’s based on a combination of height and weight.”
Babies, it would seem, are now plagued with a pre-existing condition called “breathing.”
Luckily for the Langes, Rocky Mountain Health Plans didn’t appreciate all the attention it was getting for this denial of coverage and finally agreed to add Alex to his parents’ plan, blaming the initial decision on “the system” in place for evaluating whether infants should be covered. Never mind that the “system” is something completely within the company’s control. Rocky Mountain Health Plans got busted for its callous, inhumane treatment of its customers, so like any bully, it needed to find a ready excuse for its behavior.
As each story like the Langes’ (and ones far worse) comes to light, the health insurance industry shrinks further back into the darkness, hardened and uncaring, just like Dick Cheney’s “heart”. This country can no longer live with the system in which it has become inextricably bound. Now is the time to kill this immoral, blood-sucking squid, and a REAL public option is the perfect stake for the job.