From today's Wall Street Journal:
The health-insurance industry said it would be willing to stop charging sick people more for coverage if all Americans were required to buy insurance.
Tuesday's proposal, included in a letter to Senate leaders by the industry's two main trade groups, is the latest move by health insurers to position themselves as constructive participants, rather than obstacles, in the debate over how to overhaul the U.S. health-care system.
Insurers hope to prove the private sector can fix problems on its own. Most urgently, the industry wants to head off momentum for a government-run program that would compete with private carriers.
What a generous offer! They agree to stop bleeding sick people of all their money, and, in exchange, everyone in America is forced to buy their overpriced product.
Oh health care industry, how do you manage to turn a profit with such a selfless and deep commitment to improving people's lives?
The proposed compromise actually tips their hands a bit. They know that America just elected a guy who ran on a health care plan that included the creation of a public option. And they elected him with a mandate. With all the frustration and animus Americans feel towards that industry, it's no wonder why they're trying to give the people something so that the worst thing doesn't happen.
When it comes to health care reform, a few ideas keep on getting tossed around by people who actually want to improve the system (as opposed to people like John McCain who just wanted to help the industry make even more money):
- Forcing the industry to deem everyone eligible
- Preventing the industry from charging some people more for health care
- Price caps
- Creating a public option that's open to everyone
- Implement either an individual or government mandate that requires everyone to be insured
- Tax credits to help people afford health care
- Various measures to reduce the price of health care, like studies to judge the cost-effectiveness of various procedures
While a few things on that list are stuff the industry wants (like tax credits that effectively subsidize that industry if there are no price controls and an individual mandate that massively increases demand for their product), there are other reforms that they are very much against. Like really against. Like "We'll make our last stand on this hill" against.
Those two things are price caps and a public option. The former they oppose for obvious reasons, and the latter they oppose because they know that they couldn't compete in terms of price and quality with a government-run program. Think about how much money Fedex, UPS, and DHL would make if the US Postal Service shut down, or how much more demand there'd be for private schools if all public schools closed their doors.
But their proposal is just awful. A mandate without price controls? No thanks, we have better plans for health care.