Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Tomorrow's News

Tomorrow marks the day that $125 million in ad spending will commence to convince folks they really DO like the new health care reform law recently passed.

With that kind of government and special-interest spending, it looks like direct-to-consumer Viagra ads on the Nightly News will seem be a bit, er, limp.

To kick things off, a pro-Dem group will air a $2 million dollar ad campaign touting the law's benefits:
"The ad campaign launching Wednesday will focus on the theme “Not Anymore,” showcasing how health reform combats existing insurance practices. The ads will highlight the industry reforms coming online Sept. 23, such as provisions that bar insurers from denying coverage to children younger than 19 who have pre-existing conditions.

“The idea is you don’t have to worry about the stability of your coverage anymore,” said Health Information Campaign communications director Erikka Knuti. “These are all things that you don’t have to be concerned about now with the new law.”
And yet this ad campaign will fail to mention what the health care law has already done to insurance premiums:
Health insurers say they plan to raise premiums for some Americans as a direct result of the health overhaul in coming weeks, complicating Democrats' efforts to trumpet their signature achievement before the midterm elections.

Aetna Inc., some BlueCross BlueShield plans and other smaller carriers have asked for premium increases of between 1% and 9% to pay for extra benefits required under the law, according to filings with state regulators.

These and other insurers say Congress's landmark refashioning of U.S. health coverage, which passed in March after a brutal fight, is causing them to pass on more costs to consumers than Democrats predicted.
Look, as one much more astute health care policy analyst has noted, you can't have your cake with insurance for millions more beneficiaries and and eat it too with lower costs, no matter what the politicians and advertisers would like us to believe. Oh sure, we can work to cut waste, and that always helps to cut costs, but how long has Medicare been existence without an ability to prevent such fraud in a meaningful way?

There is no place is easier to hide money than in a bureaucracy - just ask Don Berwick, our now head of CMS, who managed to receive over a whopping $1.4 million (Source, IHI's most recent Form 990) toward his retirement in just six short years from sources with interests in health care that he recently refused to disclose to the Senate Finance committee chairman.

See how technicalities can play to your favor in governmental bureaucracies?

No matter how we cut this, the lack of financial transparency, governmental and special interest inner-dealings, and political side-games spell disaster for this new law's ability to control health care costs and we haven't even gotten out of the gate.

And all the advertisements in the world will not change these sad facts.

-Wes

References:

Senator Grassley's letter to Dr. Berwick
Dr. Berwick's response to Senator Grassley

5 comments:

WarmSocks said...

We just learned that our insurance rates are going from $750 to $900. That's quite a bit more than 1%-9%! Political spin can't change the facts.

Anonymous said...

"Health insurers say they plan to raise premiums for some Americans as a direct result of the health overhaul"

And we know that when an insurer explains why they are raising rates, they always give us the gospel truth.

Anonymous said...

Are you assured that the insurance companies would not have any increase of premiums were it not for health care reform? What is the history of increased premiums for the past, let's say, 10 years? I seem to recall my company having to increase my share of my health insurance considerably due to the rapid rise in health insurance costs. Also, it's pretty easy for them to plead that "goodness knows they didn't WANT to increase premiums (nevermind our past history), it's just due to Obama". Just as political spin requires some critical thinking, so does a statement from health insurance providers.

Keith said...

Wes,

I would have you reference the recent debacle in California where Anthem tried to get increases of up to 50% on their individually insured patients. Under closer scrutiny, there were some "errors" in the acturial calculations that had been made. All before any health reform occurred!

We will need to beef up the state insurance overseers to assure that rate increases from insurers are truly needed. This is something that state regulators have not been good at doing in the past. At least if the insurers do get that increase however, the extra money will not go into the CEO's or shareholders pockets since the insurers will be required to spend 80% of the premium on actual health care or refund the extra loot. You couldn't differentiate whether increases in the past were needed to cover health care costs or the golden parachute for the retiring CEO.

Look for insurers to blame every increase on Obama to score points and discredit his plan. You should be more discerning than to believe your friendly folks at the health insurance company who continue to get outlandish pay packages while doing absolutely nothing to constrain health care costs over the past 10 years. They are the most worthless part of the whole health care aparatus as best as I can tell.

Bernie Goulet said...

Seriously Wes,

The insurance increases have almost nothing to do with increased costs of care and EVERYTHING to do with the insurers realize that congress left them a small window to cram last chance increases in. When Insurer Executive pay comes back to earth and they cannot pay a profit to there investors I MIGHT start to buy this argument - until then its clearly BS.