How a Few Private Health Insurers Are on the Way to Controlling Health Care

A Re-Post from Robert Reich; PhD

Staff Reporters

The healthcare public option is dead, killed by a handful of senators from small states who are mostly bought off by Big Insurance and Big Pharma -or- intimidated by these industries’ deep pockets and power to run political ads against them.


Some might say it’s no great loss at this point because the Senate bill Harry Reid came up with contained a public option available only to 4 million people, which would have been far too small to exert any competitive pressure on private insurers anyway.



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3 Responses

  1. Should the Federal government have the power to regulate health insurance company rates, as recently outlined by the Obama administration?




  2. Calling insurers ‘payers’ grossly exaggerates their benevolence
    “Physicians protected from health plan credit card fees – The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has weighed in with definitive guidance saying that health plans cannot require physician practices or other health care organizations to accept payments made using so-called virtual credit cards that are often accompanied by exorbitant service fees.” By Andis Robeznieks for AMA News, October 5, 2017.
    Virtual credit cards have not yet reached dentistry as far as I know. However, electronic funds transfer is being increasingly pushed by insurers… which requires dentists to transmit patients’ protected health information over the internet, which I would rather not do for security reasons. I think you understand.
    Some insurers have stopped mailing explanation of benefits (EOB) to pressure dentists to agree to electronic payment – saving money for the insurer but vastly increasing the risk of a data breach. Without access to an EOB, neither the dentist nor patient (the insurer’s client) have any way of knowing if and why a claim is disallowed. How hard can it be to include the EOB with the mailed payment – like they have done for decades?
    While patients – the insurers’ clients – are intentionally kept uninformed about the unnecessary risk to their welfare, dentists increasingly must (quietly) choose between protecting patients’ privacy or transparency from insurance companies selected by the patient, not the dentist. It is an unfair and unethical business practice. It’s a crime, in my opinion.
    D. Kellus Pruitt DDS


  3. Bipartisan Deal to Fund Insurer Payments Faces Tough Political Slog
    In hopeful news for health plans, two key senators announced the outline of a bipartisan agreement Tuesday to stabilize the individual insurance market by extending cost-sharing subsidy payments to insurers for two years. Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Patty Murray (D-WA), the leaders of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, paired that Democratic demand with a Republican plan allowing states to ease Affordable Care Act rules for the individual insurance market.
    Healthcare industry groups generally welcomed the agreement, which could avert an unraveling of the individual market, much higher premiums, and the exit of many insurers from the ACA exchanges. But it was unclear how open other congressional Republicans will be to any deal that they believe props up the Affordable Care Act.
    Source: Harris Meyer, Modern Healthcare [10/17/17]  


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