Health insurers near monopoly control of most markets
I thought I understood why insurance companies were the main threats to a “public option.” It’s easy. Their overhead—exec salaries, advertising, political lobbying, etc.—averages 31%. Medicare’s overhead is 1%. No duh they don’t want to compete.
Today, I found out there’s another reason: they mostly don’t even compete against each other. Consumers in 94% of America’s insurance markets buy their health insurance from near-monopolies that dominate their region. The Bigs don’t want to avoid public competition, they want to avoid any competition.
And what happens when profit-makers don’t have to compete? You know what.
Premiums have risen 87% over the last six years, while profits at the ten Bigs rose 428%. Wait a minute: If your insurer’s profit is up 400%, why are your premiums rising so fast?
So, on with the debate: Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), speaking on Fox News, defended the insurance company position, saying a public option would “destroy the marketplace for health care.”
But TPM today covered a report by Health Care for America Now, saying:
And maybe that’s why millions of your excess insurance premium dollars are being spent on defeating a public option, rather than on reducing your premium.
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