National Journal Blog – Health Insurers’ 11th-Hour Outburst

NCHC Writers
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Henry Simmons, M.D.

October 13, 2009

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House Democrats and for that matter, every Member of Congress, should be concerned about every factor of health care costs, including the amount of profit generated.

At the same time, America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) is correct in pointing out that health plan profits are not the major factor driving health care costs. In fact, a recent Atlantic Monthly Magazine article concluded, that confiscating the annual profits of every U.S. health insurance company, would pay for only four days of health care for all Americans, while seizing the profits of the ten largest U.S. drug companies would pay for only seven additional days of care.

Vilifying one element of the health care system (i.e. the insurance industry) is neither fair, accurate nor useful. There are many factors contributing to rapid health care cost increases, including the massive administrative costs inherent in our poorly structured health insurance system.

I further believe, as our Coalition and others have long stressed, that health reform must be comprehensive and that the policy debate must not lose sight of the fact that the underlying major drivers of health care costs are the number of tasks, technologies and services ordered by health professionals and hospitals and the prices charged for them.

Unfortunately, current Congressional reform proposals have yet to adequately address these major problems. Until they do, it will be impossible to attain or sustain health insurance coverage for every American.

Much remains to be done. We desperately need comprehensive health system reform and we need it now.

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