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The White House vs. the insurers

obamaonblackinsurers.JPG

On Wednesday, President Obama will deliver a speech defending the health-care bill and touting its early achievements: Insurers can no longer discriminate against children for preexisting conditions and they have to let them remain on their parents' insurance until age 26; a raft of preventive services must now be covered without any co-payment; and annual limits are being phased out.

Each and every one of these regulations is wildly popular. But let's be honest: They cost money. Discriminating for preexisting conditions, setting annual caps and charging co-payments are things insurers do to save money. Make those things illegal, and costs will go up. Not much, because those things are very small. But some. The bill's cost-savings provisions, meanwhile, come later.

Rising costs, however, are not popular. And insurers don't want to be blamed for them. So they're telling beneficiaries that all of their annual cost increase, rather than a small fraction of it, is a result of the new law. This infuriated the White House. Kathleen Sebelius sent them a letter warning that "there will be zero tolerance for this type of misinformation and unjustified rate increases." The insurance industry is expected to be a major theme of the president's speech, and he "will also meet at the White House with state insurance commissioners to discuss their role in making sure insurers don't improperly blame the new law for big premium increases, and to talk about enforcing patient protections."

This is a fight the White House wants: Health insurers are perennially unpopular, and one of the greatest boosts for health-care reform came when Anthem Blue Cross blundered into announcing a massive rate increase in the middle of the reform battle. The White House is hoping that insurers have just put themselves in the middle of the fight again.

But this is also a sign of its weakness. The administration is picking a fight with insurers because it's not been able to win the fight against Republicans. The health-care bill is unpopular. There's some evidence that it's hurting conservative Democrats in tight races. The GOP is increasingly coalescing around a strategy to choke off its funding if they take over the Congress.

The White House is hoping to recast the battle over the health-care reform bill as reformers vs. the insurance industry, which would, implicitly, put the Republicans on the side of the insurers. But that's because they're not able to run on the bill alone. The White House's greatest achievement is not, at this point, a political winner, and that's contributing to a very tough campaign season for the Democrats. A speech isn't going to fix it. They're hoping that the right villain will.

Photo credit: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters.

By Ezra Klein  | September 20, 2010; 11:47 AM ET
Categories:  Health Reform  
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Comments


You guys should stop complaining because, one the health care we have now isnt as good as it was supposed to be. also the law has just been signed so give it some time. so if u want to say u have the right to choose tell that to ur congress men or state official. If you do not have insurance and need one You can find full medical coverage at the lowest price by calling 877-882-4740 or check http://bit.ly/9fDY7U If you have health insurance and do not care about cost just be happy about it and trust me you are not going to loose anything!

Posted by: kevindeon20 | September 20, 2010 12:03 PM | Report abuse

Is there any empirical evidence that insurance companies will increase rates more than needed to cover the cost of the reforms?

Is Klein just assuming that?

Posted by: laser83 | September 20, 2010 12:25 PM | Report abuse

Is there any empirical evidence that insurance companies will increase rates more than needed to cover the cost of the reforms?

Is Klein just assuming that?

Posted by: laser83 | September 20, 2010 12:27 PM | Report abuse

"The White House's greatest achievement is not, at this point, a political winner, and that's contributing to a very tough campaign season for the Democrats. A speech isn't going to fix it. They're hoping that the right villain will."

I guess Ezra at some point it is going to come to cheer leaders and pundits like you (and supporters like me) who pressured WH to pass this law; to find ways to sale this politically.

I doubt you can sit on sideline and pretend that you are just a journalist or pundit simply observing and retelling things.

There is responsibility to all those folks who were so enamored to pass Affordable Health Care Act to put forward right political message (in the end it cannot be anything apart from a honest take accepting mistakes too) so that GOP's successful attack is addressed.

Posted by: umesh409 | September 20, 2010 12:29 PM | Report abuse

Ah, so the issue for Mr. "no red or blue states, only the United States of America" is now "finding the right villain." Perhaps if he had been more open-minded about finding a truly bipartisan compromise on the health-care bill rather than rejecting all Republican proposals out of hand, he wouldn't have these problems. His arrogance and ignorance of basic economics is what has driven him to this point, not the rational economic reactions of health insurers trying to respond to mandates which increase their costs.

Posted by: Illini | September 20, 2010 12:30 PM | Report abuse

"Kathleen Sebelius sent them a letter warning that 'there will be zero tolerance for this type of misinformation and unjustified rate increases.'"

Which is going to be interpreted as "yes, we're forcing costs to go up, but we don't want you to tell anybody".

These sorts of tête-à-tête rarely "correct the misimpression". Indeed, it will probably reinforce the impression that government regulation and mandates are forcing healthcare costs up, but that the government doesn't want people "telling the truth" and are trying to "shut them up".

@laser83: "Is there any empirical evidence that insurance companies will increase rates"

If there is a private bureaucracy as inefficient and irrational as many government bureaucracies, you will find it in the insurance industry. So, it wouldn't surprise me that there is evidence. Although, to be compelling, the evidence should be more than the opinion of a "non-partisan" government body saying, "well, this is how much *we* think it should cost".

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | September 20, 2010 12:32 PM | Report abuse

"When logic and persuasion do not work, resort to demagoguery." - Ezra Klein

Posted by: cdosquared5 | September 20, 2010 12:33 PM | Report abuse

Eliminating pre-existing conditions, removal of any annual or lifetime cap on outlays, elimination of all co-pays on preventive services. These don't cost much???? Please show at least some small degree of journalistic integrity and cite facts for broad biased statements like this. You have no clue what they cost, nor does the administration.

Posted by: doug7772 | September 20, 2010 12:50 PM | Report abuse

Insurers of ALL stripes make tons of money only when nobody has a claim. They love those individuals who keep paying and paying good money all their lives and never claim.
Well, if insurers were really in bad shape and there is not much money to be made at the expensee of the working stiff, why do they still remain in business and have no intention on quitting?
Because there still big money to be made and they expect the Reublican right-wingers to shape up their coffers. There is a new sheriff in town and they don't like it. Tough s.hit!

Posted by: analyst72 | September 20, 2010 12:50 PM | Report abuse

Let's just call this President was he is: A Mistake. Let him give his speeches and radical rants. Let's ignore him. Same goes for Little Ezzie Boy Klein.

Posted by: hz9604 | September 20, 2010 12:53 PM | Report abuse

I wiped the dacron-polyester out of my eyes and saw that "it" was never about healthcare. It was always about health insurance.

Posted by: whocares666 | September 20, 2010 12:54 PM | Report abuse

Two points need to be made. If one takes a hard look at the finances, one will find the return on capital in the insurance industry is 2 or 3 percent. You can get a better return on your money buying government bonds. Insurance company cannot increase rates without the approval of state insurance boards. This means they have to justify any premium increases to political appointees. There are reasons why we spent somewhere between 16 and 18 percent of our GNP on health care and the other so-called advanced nations spend somewhere between 8 and 11 percent of their GNPs on health care. If we wanted health care reform we should have look to how nations such as Germany can contain their costs, but sadly we did not.

Posted by: jeffreed | September 20, 2010 12:56 PM | Report abuse

what Ms. Sebelius doesn't get is that the changes in the laws affect each insurer differently. What costs Highmark in PA 1.14% (ESTIMATED) could cost Anthem in CA 3% or someone else 1%.

And everyone knows that healthcare costs are rising not mainly because of these added benefits but they're rising still. This is just adding on top of it.

And what Ms. Sebelius doesn't mention is that starting in January insurers CAN'T just increase for the sake of increasing because of the MLR.

Pretty soon she's going to have to find a new bogeyman.

Posted by: visionbrkr | September 20, 2010 12:57 PM | Report abuse

The constitutional scholar went up against big insurance.... and got burned.

Big surprise.

Once it was written, don't you think the insurance companies actually read it?

Don't you think they will exploit it within the constraints of the law?

how naive.

Posted by: docwhocuts | September 20, 2010 1:03 PM | Report abuse

Another cheap shot from our divider in chief, President Barrack Obama. Insurance Companies are only administrators in the third party triangle between an individual, his or her doctor and government regulations. They don't make the rules they just charge an administratve fee for paying the bills. Another example of Obama demonizing private enterprise. All the carriers are doing is passing along normal medical cost increases and some additional for the extra costs associated with Obamacare. Obama will cause the Insurance Companies to fail then the government can ride to the rescue with a single payer system. It happened in Canada just that way.

Posted by: jkk1943 | September 20, 2010 1:04 PM | Report abuse

This is nothing but empty posturing by the empty suit.

Originally Obama claimed we needed a public option to keep health insurance companies "honest." Then he claimed he never said it (even though I heard him with my own ears).

Now the health insurance companies are being their usual criminal selves and Obama is wringing his hands when he knew all along this would happen --because he ENABLED it to.

Posted by: solsticebelle | September 20, 2010 1:05 PM | Report abuse

It is certainly fair for the President to complain about misinformation from insurers about the cause of rate increases. But it is very unfortunate that the debate about health care comes down to trying to be the last one standing after a contest of hurling smears at the other side. The reality is that health care costs are going up. Neither the President's plan nor the insurers are the major factor in the rising costs. But, nobody has made even much of a start at any kind of effort to control costs. The cost of health care is likely to be the biggest economic issue of this century. Some day responsible efforts to control provider costs may help some. But people are going to have to accept that if they want more health care , they are going to have to pay for it. It is going to take up an ever larger part of our income and the national budget. Of course, those who prefer to spend their money on trinkets instead of good health should be free to make their own choice.

Posted by: dnjake | September 20, 2010 1:06 PM | Report abuse

The White House vs. the insurers?


This is all part of The White House vs. the free enterprise. That's all it is. It wants that "single payer" system, whether it can push it through the house or not.


Barrack Obama on the private sector: "Eventually a consulting house to multinational corporations agreed to hire me as a research assistant. Like a spy behind enemy lines, I arrived at my mid-manhattan office and sat at my computer terminal..." Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance p 135


Barrack Obama is destroying the most prosperous nation in the world with the goal of re-making it into a Socialist nation.


And you Erza Klein are helping him.

Posted by: FormerDemocrat | September 20, 2010 1:12 PM | Report abuse

"These sorts of tête-à-tête rarely 'correct the misimpression'. Indeed, it will probably reinforce the impression that government regulation and mandates are forcing healthcare costs up, but that the government doesn't want people 'telling the truth' and are trying to 'shut them up'.

1%-2% increase in premiums. That's the estimated impact of the health insurance reform bill for the requirements that go into effect this year.

Sebelius reiterates this amount in the letter cited by EK. The letter also mentions that consumers will have lower (shouldn't it be zero?) out-of-pocket expenses on those procedures which logically should offset any increase in premiums.

Makes sense.

Posted by: tuber | September 20, 2010 1:13 PM | Report abuse

The sooner the Republicant Socialists and their fellow travelers in the GOP are kicked to the curb and forced to stop ripping off the American Middle Class ...

the BETTER.

If you hate our President and our Government and want a Religious society, move to Somalia!

Posted by: WillSeattle | September 20, 2010 1:16 PM | Report abuse

"Kathleen Sebelius sent them a letter warning that "there will be zero tolerance for this type of misinformation and unjustified rate increases." "


Kathleen will put them all in jail should they seek to avail themselves of their First Amendmnet protections..

Posted by: etronsen | September 20, 2010 1:19 PM | Report abuse

It seems that whether HC Reform was signed into law or NOT the HC Industry was going to continue driving up costs; however, now it seems they are looking for a scapegoat to drive up their costs.

You just gotta love Corporations and Industries that have been exploiting Americans for years to fill their pockets and personal bank accounts with the "almighty dollar".

Posted by: lcarter0311 | September 20, 2010 1:26 PM | Report abuse

The biggest problem with the health care reform legislation is that the biggest cost saving measure (the public option) was excluded and the other cost savings measures were pushed out into the future to try to get Republican votes. The good news is that even if Republicans try to defund the legislation, it will still be illegal to deny coverage for preexisting conditions. So, go ahead and prevent the creation of high risk pools, I am certain it will not take long for the Insurance Industry to demand that the Republicans fund those high risk pools to improve the insurers bottom lines.

Posted by: Prosperity2008 | September 20, 2010 1:27 PM | Report abuse

"So they're telling beneficiaries that all of their annual cost increase, rather than a small fraction of it, is a result of the new law. This infuriated the White House."

The process was steady and predictable. The new law changed the process and therefore, the change is a result of the new law.

Posted by: ahashburn | September 20, 2010 1:28 PM | Report abuse

jkk1943 wrote>>>They (ins. companies) don't make the rules they just charge an administratve fee for paying the bills

Insurance companies have "death panels" that literally stand between patients and doctors and decide if customers live or die. Republican$ like it that way.

Posted by: angie12106 | September 20, 2010 1:30 PM | Report abuse

Insurers are telling the People an Inconvenient Truth.

"There's no such thing as a free lunch."

Obamacare redefined what "insurance" is. Before Obamacare, insurance companies agreed to pay a defined and limited benefit for something that might or might not happen in the future.

Obamacare changed that by requiring insurers to pay
(1) for something that has already happened (a "pre-existing condition")
(2) for the sick person's lifetime
(3) without a limit on the insuance company's liability and
(4) without charging the person with the pre-existing condition more than someone else who is healthy.

That's not "insurance."
That's welfare.
Of course, the insrance companies pass the cost to healthy people.

That's like the Government forcing bookmakers to take bets on last year's Superbowl. Let me know if you know anyone who takes this kind of bet.

No one would enter into that kind of business, unless they were forced to do it, which is what Obamacare does.

Then Obama complains about the cost increases for healthy people.

Only someone who never ran a business would be surprised at the cost increases.

How do you price a lifetime of unlimited liability?
How long is a lifetime?
How much will drugs cost 20 years from now?
How much will doctors cost?
How many customers are already very sick? The insurance company doesn't even know how many customers are already very sick, because Obamacare created a "don't ask don't tell" policy for insurance.

Obama just prints money when the Governmemt runs out of money. If insurance companies do that, they go to jail. Insurance companies have to price their products to ensure they have resources to cover all claims. Faced with substantial amunts of unlimited liability, of course, they increase rates substantially.

That's Obama's big healthcare victory.

Posted by: jfv123 | September 20, 2010 1:31 PM | Report abuse

Wingnuts are always complaining and whining. When health insurance rates were shooting through the roof, they blamed illegal aliens. When the feds tried to do something about the cost of health insurance, they started blaming the feds for the cost of health insurance. Of course, we all know that the insurance companies are good and honest citizens doing their best to look out for the little guy, I mean, they would never do anything that wasn't in the best interest of the little guy...right?

Posted by: nsu1203 | September 20, 2010 1:37 PM | Report abuse

Sure we should all open our wallets and spend and insurers and business in general should lead the way, right? Come on people! If you were confronted with a hostile actor you'd be holding on to your money to either ride out the storm or fight what ever might be coming. Do we think businesses act any differently? All this "people over profits" stuff is pure political BS. If companies don't make profits they go out of business firing all their people, period! So tell me profits are bad--how stupid.

This is all "PCW" -- Political Class Warfare. BO and his buddies Nancy and Harry push through the biggest expansion in health insurer obligations EVER and then they pick a fight with the health insurers when they say, its gonna cost more? As for Kathleen Sebelius, she clearly has her sights on a higher office--PRESIDENT. She should take ECON 101 first. She's obviously well versed in POL SCI. God help us because its obvious these people can't.

Posted by: lovinliberty | September 20, 2010 1:38 PM | Report abuse

Why is Obama challenging XYZ?
Same reason as always, it's his only card (ie to argue) and his liberal cabinet tells him to.

Posted by: SamRon1 | September 20, 2010 1:40 PM | Report abuse

My insurance company just raised my premiums on my son and wife by 10% on each of their policies. They said it was because of the new health care rule that are putting pressure on because someone has to pay for all the extra cost.

I pay nearly $300 a month for medicare and medicare supplements and I won't know until a month or so how much that is going up.

Obama and the those who voted for the health care bill can say it is going to save money all they want, but when the rubber meets the road, my costs went up more than they have gone up in the past three years.

Posted by: tonyjm | September 20, 2010 1:41 PM | Report abuse

He has NO CLUE !!!!!!!1

Posted by: votingrevolution1 | September 20, 2010 1:42 PM | Report abuse

I am happily less than one year out from getting Medicare, and I can hardly wait! I suggest that the posters who do not want health care reform contact their health insurance companies and ask just how many executives in upper management own private jets.

*That* is where the premiums are going!

Posted by: ftb3 | September 20, 2010 1:44 PM | Report abuse

I'm not 100% satisfied with Obama's performance and achievements, but the number of people commenting here who demand, out loud, to be ripped off by insurance companies is pathetic and embarrassing as an American. Does half of America really want another round of BOHICA? Apparently they hate Obama more than they love their country.

Posted by: sparkplug1 | September 20, 2010 1:50 PM | Report abuse

And to all the terminally greedy GOP pond scum who don't like the health care law - TFB. The administration needs to take a big stick and beat the insurance company weasels back into the holes they slithered out of, and only a complete moron (or a Republican) would ever even CONSIDER putting the slightest trust in corporate America to "do the right thing." And I see "FormerDemocrat" is still afflicted with head-up-my-ass" syndrome. Guess he didn't take my advice about visiting his proctologist for a brain scan.

Posted by: Bushwhacked1 | September 20, 2010 1:57 PM | Report abuse

"Ah, so the issue for Mr. "no red or blue states, only the United States of America" is now "finding the right villain." Perhaps if he had been more open-minded about finding a truly bipartisan compromise on the health-care bill rather than rejecting all Republican proposals out of hand, he wouldn't have these problems. His arrogance and ignorance of basic economics is what has driven him to this point, not the rational economic reactions of health insurers trying to respond to mandates which increase their costs."
--------------------------------------
Illini: You must have been following some other health care debate. If you recall Single Payer was taken "off the table" and never even seriously discussed, the Public Option vanished, Senator Lieberman didn't like Medicare over 50 so that was eliminated and the Republicans openly stated that they hoped to use the debate as a way to destroy the Obama presidency. And remember - even with the changes adopted that the Republicans insisted on - they voted "No" as a block anyway.

My personal view is this: the way insurance works, rates go down as the coverage pool is expanded. Therefore, the lowest aggregate costs exist when the maximum number of people are covered - i.e. everyone. Hey, I'm a price-conscious shopper too - how do I get the best value for my dollar? Which can be rephrased as: how do I buy into the largest pool possible? Theoretically, the ideal pool is one which contains all Americans - spreading the risk over everybody. The problems with that solution are such a pool is either run by government or by a monopoly. Given the mistrust of such bureaucracies (either allegedly incompetent government, or price gouging by monopolies), we're left with a competitive marketplace.

My problem with that is that for-profit insurers don't have a particularly strong incentive to provide me the best possible care - their incentive is to improve their bottom line, which means they're looking for ways to avoid spending money on me. So I still think, as I did long before this health care debate began, that we should put a public-option plan, like Medicare, in the marketplace as a provider open to enrollment by anyone. If the private market can deliver better care at a lower cost, people will buy private insurance. If Medicare is a better value, people will make that choice. To me, that's a way to maximize freedom and choice by letting people decide where to spend their healthcare dollars. Don't trust government? buy private insurance. Don't trust the profit motive to provide you the best care? Buy from a nonprofit or buy into Medicare. Problem solved.

Posted by: shadowmagician | September 20, 2010 1:59 PM | Report abuse

Clearly, the insurance companies won with Obamacare. The numbers are going to be vague and difficult to follow so some manipulation is obviously possible.

However, the insurance companies are / are going to be raising rates, justifiably, to cover all of the additional costs of the mandated coverage, additional benefits, and the Obamacare willy-nilly gifts to those who should not qualify based on their own personal situations: illegal immigrants, etc.

My policy premium has just increased substantially. Just as taxpayers had no voice in this outrageous massive "reform", we also have no voice in the premium increases we are now burdened with from Obamacare.
We needed incremental changes, premium analysis and reductions, not the monstrosity / fiasco Obama gave us.

What a joke of an administration.

Posted by: pjcafe | September 20, 2010 2:03 PM | Report abuse

Ah, so the issue for Mr. "no red or blue states, only the United States of America" is now "finding the right villain." Perhaps if he had been more open-minded about finding a truly bipartisan compromise on the health-care bill rather than rejecting all Republican proposals out of hand, he wouldn't have these problems. His arrogance and ignorance of basic economics is what has driven him to this point, not the rational economic reactions of health insurers trying to respond to mandates which increase their costs.

Posted by: Illini

=========================================

Liberals always like to bring up the talking point of "Republican obstructionism" but the fact remains that in 2009 the GOP was badly fractured and with a decent bill they still would be fractured today.

If you can't get Senators like Snowe, Collins and Grassley on your side, maybe it's just a crappy bill.

Posted by: bbface21 | September 20, 2010 2:10 PM | Report abuse

Ezra, you are saying Obama is targeting the insurance companies because he hasn't been able to beat back the Republican spin machine. But the Republicans do what they do with insurance money and in service of big business profits. Obama is, in fact, wisely attacking the head of the opposition, and it's a strategy that middle America should hope Obama wins. Our health care "system" of employer-provided health care is an accident of history. It worked okay until the insurance companies got computers that could "underwrite" each customer down to the pimples on their backsides. Then the companies started playing with numbers, and not to the insureds' benefit, either. When it comes to health care, THE vested interest is the health insurance industry, and they don't want the system to change. But the businesses have run the system for their profit for 60 years, and they've done as their charters demand - maximize income, minimize expenditures. Unfortunately, this capitalist model, when it comes to health care, pits money vs people's health and well-being. And for no good purpose - our costs are higher and our health is worse than most of our major competitors' (not China). Obama is on the side of the people, the Republicans stand with the insurance companies and other, wealthy vested interests that simply aren't responsible for the general well-being of the United States.

Posted by: windroad1 | September 20, 2010 2:15 PM | Report abuse

"I am happily less than one year out from getting Medicare, and I can hardly wait! I suggest that the posters who do not want health care reform contact their health insurance companies and ask just how many executives in upper management own private jets.

*That* is where the premiums are going!"

Regarding the private jets, while such perks are perhaps wasteful, they are only a drop in the bucket in the context of total healthcare spending. The cost driver is increasing prices and utilization of health care services.

By the way, despite these private jets and other perks, private insurance managed to run lower administrative costs per patient than Medicare during the first half of last decade.

http://www.heritage.org/static/reportimages/3E7C83634D74D936BF0F09ACC8B79AC7.gif

Posted by: justin84 | September 20, 2010 2:24 PM | Report abuse

UHC was going to raise my companies insurance contract rates by 30% last year long before HC Reform was even passed into law. With that my company chose to search for a new Health care provider for their employees, instead of passing on the 30% rate increase to their employees. As it turned out, they chose BC Anthem, because the rate was smaller, but now after reading this article, it looks like BC Anthem are now trying to follow in the same foot steps as UHC, instead they are trying to blame their rate increases on Obama and HC reform.

It's all BS. There are no two ways about it.

Posted by: lcarter0311 | September 20, 2010 2:24 PM | Report abuse

**Health reform isn't popular.**

A lie broadcast daily by Fox News.

Unasked poll questions:

1) Should all Americans receive routine medical care or not?

answer: Yes

2) Should insurance companies be able to exclude the sick?

answer: No

3) If the rest of the First World can cover all their citizens
at about 10% GDP, can't America figure out how at 15% GDP

answer: Yes

4) If you lose your job that has health insurance, are you 1 illness
away from financial ruin under the current system?

answer: Yes

Of smear tactics by extremist media outlets, Abe Lincoln would have said;
"You can fool some of the people, ALL of the time"... ;^)

- Balkingpoints / www

Posted by: RField7 | September 20, 2010 2:25 PM | Report abuse

I'll agree that allowing parents to carry their kids on their insurance until the child reached 26 was actually a winner for everyone. Insurance companies got premiums paid to them for a lot longer, the kids were insured while they were still in college or earning minimum wage only, and not as many parents were stuck with catastrophic bills if their child did become ill or injured.

However, even if he gets reelected in 2012 (want to bet Hillary tries to push him out?) Obama is not going to succeed in getting health care insurance overhauled in his presidency. There are still too many doctors, hospitals, and the insurance companies fighting to keep their now larger slice of the pie. And insurance companies have a lot deeper pockets than the president does.

Posted by: mhoust | September 20, 2010 2:28 PM | Report abuse

I'm a tea party member that lives on a fixed government income that does not want the government to take away my government-subsidized health care.

I want to continue to see a world where people get sick and die and their families cannot pay the bills.

I want a country where people go bankrupt to pay for necessary medical services and want to force all people only to seek medical attention when it is an emergency, thereby increasing costs for all of us.

Even though the equivalent of 16 times the number of people that died in 9/11 every year die because of lack of health care, I don't want the government to do anything about it.

I am a proud tea party member.

Posted by: dc1020008 | September 20, 2010 2:48 PM | Report abuse

Each and every one of these regulations is wildly popular. But let's be honest: They cost money.
THEY COST MONEY! Finally, someone tell the Empty Suit in the White House. When Obama care covers everybody for everything from cradle to grave, they just turned Insurance Companies into Welfare Centers. They did the Same thing to FNMA and look at the disastrous results... This is called an Unsustainable IRS enforced Nightmare of Obama Crap Care.

Posted by: jblast2000 | September 20, 2010 2:54 PM | Report abuse

Face it, the goal of this adminstration is to turn the private health insurers into public utilities.
While being wards of the state may look good on paper, consumers have not fared well from the same thing being done with the energy providers.
It's time to rethink this approach, and give consumers a much-needed break.

Posted by: mtpeaks | September 20, 2010 2:55 PM | Report abuse

I was relieved when the health care reform bill allowed for my underemployed son (who has a master's degree) to remain on my insurance. But surprise! My health care provider is CHARGING these under 26-year-olds $500 per month to remain on the plan until June 2011. The company's loophole, apparently, is their fiscal year began in June, and so the federal policy will not be enforced until June 2011 when the fiscal year ends. Thankfully, my son is now gainfully employed, but there are plenty of other families who will be faced with paying the $500 a month or declining coverage, praying that nothing serious happens to their children.

Posted by: smchugh | September 20, 2010 2:58 PM | Report abuse

WOW! This is simply amazing. First congressional Democrats ... and now the president are loudly expressing their 'buyers' remorse' for what they once called a great accomplishment.

And Kathleen is simply following orders to decry premium increases. But not one, not one company has REDUCED its premiums for health insurance, no matter how loud the Democrats scream now. And no matter how many lies they told to get the insurance company bonanza bill passed.

Posted by: infuse | September 20, 2010 3:04 PM | Report abuse

To laser 83: Where have you been? Insurers have been raising rates to the tune of 25%/year in the last two years alone!!! It's not a figment of anyone's imagination.

Posted by: bigisle | September 20, 2010 3:04 PM | Report abuse

To laser 83: Where have you been? Insurers have been raising rates to the tune of 25%/year in the last two years alone!!! It's not a figment of anyone's imagination.

Posted by: bigisle | September 20, 2010 3:05 PM | Report abuse

It's called Greece

Posted by: jblast2000 | September 20, 2010 3:07 PM | Report abuse

Socialism is the ONE WAY street to hell...

Margaret Thatcher- The problem with socialism is that you soon run out of rich people to pay the bill...

Socialist countries are characterized by high taxes, high unemployment and low productivity.
Socialism has always been for the desperate and the ignorant...who will sell their souls and give up their freedoms...

Posted by: jblast2000 | September 20, 2010 3:14 PM | Report abuse

Pres. Clinton has a really good argument in favor of HCR. It's the best I've heard and might change some voters minds.

Watch the extended interview videos of him on the Daily Show from last week. He's still the sharpest political knife in the drawer on the Dem side.

Posted by: valkayec | September 20, 2010 3:16 PM | Report abuse

As someone who has been in healthcare since 1990 and worked for HMOs for 10 years, I bristle when I hear the misinformation and outright lies put out by Republicans, right wingers, etc. about the "government takeover of healthcare." Healthcare reform as it currently exists was the biggest boon to private health insurance companies since their inception. Yes they have to cover more people and more conditions, but this article is absolutely correct, those changes WILL BE REFLECTED IN THE PREMIUMS. Nothing has been done to impact the cost curve. The number one, number two and number three beneficiaries of healthcare reform have been the insurers!

Posted by: wrw01011 | September 20, 2010 3:18 PM | Report abuse

As someone who has been in healthcare since 1990 and worked for HMOs for 10 years, I bristle when I hear the misinformation and outright lies put out by Republicans, right wingers, etc. about the "government takeover of healthcare." Healthcare reform as it currently exists was the biggest boon to private health insurance companies since their inception. Yes they have to cover more people and more conditions, but this article is absolutely correct, those changes WILL BE REFLECTED IN THE PREMIUMS. Nothing has been done to impact the cost curve. The number one, number two and number three beneficiaries of healthcare reform have been the insurers!

Posted by: wrw01011 | September 20, 2010 3:18 PM | Report abuse

Now that Insurance companies are competing.

So they do not eat each other alive they got the amount for the Heath care industry set at 85%.

Which still meant getting a much higher level of efficiency.

Insurance Industry refused to lower their costs. There by claiming by self fulfilling prophecy that they had to make a profit.

I still do not get it.

Why do we need a healthcare insurance agency to monitor and divide our healthcare money and they get 15%..

ISA

Posted by: vettesport | September 20, 2010 3:24 PM | Report abuse

FIFTY MILLION Americans do NOT have health insurance. Think about that number for a minute.

The 20 million or so illegals here do NOT have health insurance.

Who do you think pays for their sniffles and their serious surgeries???

Why, we the taxpayers do!!!!

Better to have ObamaCare where everybody who can possibly afford it does pay some into insurance policies and exchanges.

Yes, there is 'no free lunch' so in those terms we're already paying and have been paying for those who cannot or greedily will not pay for insurance until now.

I'm tired of a lifetime of reading about 'telethons' and 'public donations' to fork over to poor folks who are now paralyzed or otherwise totally incapacitated because, snif, snif, they didn't have any insurance and just didn't see tragedy coming.

Posted by: mosthind | September 20, 2010 3:31 PM | Report abuse

FIFTY MILLION Americans do NOT have health insurance. Think about that number for a minute.

The 20 million or so illegals here do NOT have health insurance.

Who do you think pays for their sniffles and their serious surgeries???
-------------------------
DUDE stay out of Japan, Canada and Europe

we don't like your kind..

ISA

Posted by: vettesport | September 20, 2010 3:42 PM | Report abuse

Ezra, get your facts straight. Your claim that "insurers . . . [are] telling beneficiaries that all of their annual cost increase, rather than a small fraction of it, is a result of the new law" is just inaccurate. I don't know of any insurer that's doing making that claim. Many insurers are telling consumers what portion of their increase is attributable to health care reform, and HHS doesn't agree with the percentage.

HHS is cherry-picking the lowest estimates and trying to force insurers to use them. The problem (aside from the fact that those are low estimates) is that every insurer's risk pool and benefits are different, and so health care reform will increase premiums a different percentage from policy to policy. It's not in the public interest to require insurers to only use HHS's very low estimates when describing how health care reform has affected their policy. What's more, threatening insurers to try to force that to happen is a bad way to regulate an industry.

Posted by: balance71 | September 20, 2010 3:43 PM | Report abuse

I can't figure it out - if insurance companies keep raising my premiums while reducing what they'll cover (and they have dones so for years now), that's supposed to be okay because that's the Free Market in Action. If the government raises my taxes to give all of us better coverage, that's bad, bad, bad, completely unAmerican. If we had nonprofit insurance companies, as we have nonprofit educational institutions, the costs might continue to rise (as everything else does), but not to the extent they are now.

Posted by: jujones1 | September 20, 2010 3:44 PM | Report abuse

The changes do cost money and a lot of money. In uderwritting a policy the norm is employee plus spouse and/or children under the age of 25 who are full time students. Now you have 3 or more adults receiving benefits. Who pays for that? You also have the eliminations of several co-pays, who pays the additional provider reimbursement cost that has to be underwritten. Also, if you have a child coming on to a policy who's care is currently costing thousands of dollars, who pays for that? The answer is we all do who have group coverage.
The administration should have worked with the insurance companies to prevent what is currently happening, but instead, they choose to lable them public emeny number 1.

Posted by: pamlobsp | September 20, 2010 3:46 PM | Report abuse

Health Insurance is no differant than Drug Companies have all gotten away with unjustified price hikes an price gouging an outright fleecing Americans for years. I am refusing to buy Insurance this year. I simple cannot afford it nor do I want a Health Care Obama is trying to shove down our throats. I will opt out but most importantly I will use my Native America Health Benefits they are not the best but its better than nothing at all.

Posted by: JWTX | September 20, 2010 3:51 PM | Report abuse

The right Villian? No sirs, the right villianS !!! And there are plenty of them to go around for this scapegoating express by politicians, the public, and this media to look to shine the spotlights, but only if you could start with yourselves. But then, you would be blinded and not see your equally guilty comrades.

God, it is so disspiriting to read this garbage from a once proud and responsible media source. Can Obama do any wrong you would call him on it and be strong and resolved in such criticism? The letter by the Secretary of dis-Health was an abomination to be revealed, er, reviled, and yet NO ONE of depressing Democratic blue had the guts to call her on the travesty. And the sheer hypocrisy of calling your competitors one sided on the Repugnantcan positions like Fox and the Wall Street Journal on their equally disgusting unwavering support of the red party is just pathetic.

Again, I implore those of you who are true moderates and independents, dump ALL the incumbents of more than 10 years in office in early November and let those who are running in 2012 know this: we, as responsible American citizens, are beyond aware and disgusted by the lack of real representation in Washington and the 50 states. Do your job you were elected to do, or get lost!

I just want to know where all these gonads are that fell off these charlatans when they walked into the halls of Congress. You can smell the stench, just can't find the exact source, yet!!!

Posted by: Joelhassfam4 | September 20, 2010 3:51 PM | Report abuse

Health Insurance is no differant than Drug Companies have all gotten away with unjustified price hikes an price gouging an outright fleecing Americans for years. I am refusing to buy Insurance this year. I simple cannot afford it nor do I want a Health Care Obama is trying to shove down our throats. I will opt out but most importantly I will use my Native America Health Benefits they are not the best but its better than nothing at all.

Posted by: JWTX | September 20, 2010 3:51 PM | Report abuse

HEY IDIOT LIBERALS,
THERE ARE NO MORE HEALTH INSURANCE COMPANIES THAT WERE ALWAYS HEAVILY REGULATED BY THE STATES.
WHEN YOU COVER EVERYBODY WITHOUT CAPS FOR EVERYTHING YOU ARE NOW A WELFARE AGENCY.
EXCEPT, SINCE YOU CAN'T PRINT MONEY LIKE THE GOVERNMENT YOU HAVE TO RAISE PREMIUMS. AND I MEAN REALLY RAISE PREMIUMS.

IN BIDEN SPEECH, LIBERALS ARE ONE F--KING BUNCH OF IDIOTS...

LIBERALS TURNED FNMA INTO A WELFARE AGENGY AND CREATED YEARS OF TOXIC ASSETS

Posted by: jblast2000 | September 20, 2010 4:02 PM | Report abuse

Insurance companies (Insurance/pharmaceutical/Healthcare)want to suck the blood of americans until they are bone dry. They want to insure the healthy but are eager to ditch the terminally ill to keep profits up, there is nothing for the nation and its benefits in their dictionary. Now they have their billon dollar activist spewing propaganda against obama and giving kickbacks to state prosecutors/politicians and wanabe candidates to help them impede legislation to better US healthcare.

Posted by: Jim110 | September 20, 2010 4:06 PM | Report abuse

Obamacare requires all businesses to buy health care for all of their employees. That means each worker now costs the business owner another $450-550/month in HMO premiums. Making workers more expensive is not a good idea when there are so many ways to automate or outsource a job.

Employers will respond by firing as many as they can, refusing to hire anyone new, and buying the cheapest possible (read: largest deductible) HMO for the remainder.

This stupid law is a jobs-killer pure and simple.

Posted by: coakl | September 20, 2010 4:06 PM | Report abuse

No you got it wrong - the insurance companies are seeing how much they can screw the people under the new laws. Gluttony and greed.

Posted by: ok4u | September 20, 2010 4:08 PM | Report abuse

No, you got it wrong - the insurance companies are seeing how much they can screw the people under the new laws. Gluttony and greed.

Posted by: ok4u | September 20, 2010 4:09 PM | Report abuse

I can't figure it out - if insurance companies keep raising my premiums while reducing what they'll cover (and they have dones so for years now), that's supposed to be okay because that's the Free Market in Action. If the government raises my taxes to give all of us better coverage, that's bad, bad, bad, completely unAmerican. If we had nonprofit insurance companies, as we have nonprofit educational institutions, the costs might continue to rise (as everything else does), but not to the extent they are now.

Posted by: jujones1 | September 20, 2010 3:44 PM
========================================
I am guessing you never sent a child to a state supported institute of higher education.

If you did then you would know that the cost of higher education, like the cost of health care, has been rising for decades at a rate that far exceeds the rate of inflation.

The next time you choose a comparative I suggest you perform some research.

And what will the two have in common? They will now both be run by the government.

Posted by: krankyman | September 20, 2010 4:09 PM | Report abuse

I listened to a conversation in Home Depot a few days ago. One individual was looking forward to free healthcare in 2014. At least he was until the other person explained to him that it wasn't free that it was merely a healthcare insurance pool and that it was there to "buy" their insurance. The guy was dumbstruck and said that wasn't true that it was going to be free. He really became upset with the other individual when he told him that he didn't have any choice in the matter either, he was going to HAVE to buy insurance or face a fine.

I think a new Tea Bagger was born that day.

Health insurance will go up at least 50% in two years if the bill is not repealed. It has risen over 16% since the bill was passed. I know that my company is considering a great deal of options, none of which involves them providing healthcare. They will just say no and let the employees go to the government pool and buy what they can afford.

Posted by: staterighter | September 20, 2010 4:10 PM | Report abuse

Insurance companies (Insurance/pharmaceutical/Healthcare)want to suck the blood of americans until they are bone dry. They want to insure the healthy but are eager to ditch the terminally ill to keep profits up, there is nothing for the nation and its benefits in their dictionary. Now they have their billon dollar activist spewing propaganda against obama and giving kickbacks to state prosecutors/politicians and wanabe candidates to help them impede legislation to better US healthcare.

Posted by: Jim110 | September 20, 2010 4:11 PM | Report abuse

"Each and every one of these regulations is wildly popular. But let's be honest: They cost money.
THEY COST MONEY! Finally, someone tell the Empty Suit in the White House. When Obama care covers everybody for everything from cradle to grave, they just turned Insurance Companies into Welfare Centers. They did the Same thing to FNMA and look at the disastrous results... This is called an Unsustainable IRS enforced Nightmare of Obama Crap Care".
-----------------------------------
Dude - Maybe if a small group of "deficits don't matter" neo-cons hadn't got the U.S. in a $3 trillion war of choice in Iraq (financed on a chinese credit card) there'd be money available to finance decent health care.

Where were YOU when the nations' priorities were Wall Street bonuses and unpaid drug plans? Cheering on the contestants on "American Idol" and "Dancing with the Stars"?

Posted by: shadowmagician | September 20, 2010 4:18 PM | Report abuse

Obama and his handlers don't even realize how incompetent he is. Picking this fight reminds the voters that Obama doesn't have effective policies, and that he lacks the knowledge or leadership skills to be a good president. All of his accomplishments were the result of pandering to a liberal congress.

Posted by: surgres | September 20, 2010 4:23 PM | Report abuse

I continue reading about greedy insurance companies and as a former employee of an insurance carrier, let me inform you that health insurance is a "loss leader." Money is made an ancially products, such as life, disability, long term care, etc. If I got a margin (profit) on a health policy of 5% I was Queen for a year. Several companies such as Met Life and Prudential got out of the health insurance market because they were losing their shirts. They are quite successful in the voluntary market for ancially products. If you have observed the number of carriers that have left the market in the last 10 years, it would show you that there is not the big money being made that is representative if so they would still be in the business.
I am still amazed at some of the provisions in this bill, such as no co-pay for preventative care. I pay $50 every two weeks for the upkeep of my hair, yet people are unwilling to pay $20 for the upkeep of their bodies. We have to take responsibility for our own health and we should have to pay something. As for the person who's premium was raised $500 a month for her son, who should pay that, us? When you are adding additional people to a policy, it is going to cost. I guess I'm not one of the spread the wealth kinda people.

Posted by: pamlobsp | September 20, 2010 4:24 PM | Report abuse

The healthcare bill is nothing more than socialist policy. It has nothing to do with saving money but rather is a way to force taxpayers to provide coverage to everyone, including those that would rather buy a new TV than pay a health insurance premium. If you want socialized medicine please move to a socialist country. I have experience with the single payer system and it stinks! Substandard treatment, long waits, and high taxes. No innovation and little research. The single payers don't want to pay the high cost of newer treatments so they routinely deny it. If that is your idea of healthcare than you have it coming to a doctor's office near you unless this monstrosity can be stopped before it begins.

Posted by: twoeagle | September 20, 2010 4:28 PM | Report abuse

Obama needs a villian. His ideas dont sell and dont work.

Posted by: bruce18 | September 20, 2010 4:28 PM | Report abuse

lasre83:
You need empirical evidence of a health insurance company profiteering? REALLY?

Posted by: ScottFromOz | September 20, 2010 4:29 PM | Report abuse

The Federal Open season is coming up. This will be the big indicator on how much premiums up / services down Obamacare will directly cost the Federal Government and its employees/retirees.

Posted by: joecct77 | September 20, 2010 4:34 PM | Report abuse

If Obama wanted to control health care and health care costs, he never should have manadated Americans buy from for-profit insurance companies.

Less than a year ago, Obama, along with the Democrats snapped their suspenders as they told Americans Health Care Reform was the law of the land, and they did it without the Republicans.

Today, Democrats try to keep a low profile when the topic is raised.


One would think, with so much support by the Democrats and the nation, that Obama could have easily slid through a single-pay extension of Medicaid and be done with it.

But apparently, Americans aren't ready for that yet.

Posted by: asmith1 | September 20, 2010 4:53 PM | Report abuse

If Obama wanted to control health care and health care costs, he never should have manadated Americans buy from for-profit insurance companies.

Less than a year ago, Obama, along with the Democrats snapped their suspenders as they told Americans Health Care Reform was the law of the land, and they did it without the Republicans.

Today, Democrats try to keep a low profile when the topic is raised.


One would think, with so much support by the Democrats and the nation, that Obama could have easily slid through a single-pay extension of Medicaid and be done with it.

But apparently, Americans aren't ready for that yet.

Posted by: asmith1 | September 20, 2010 4:53 PM | Report abuse

We should have gotten single payer, and gotten rid of all the health insurance companies. Then we could have cost savings immediately, as well as benefits. Look at Canada: lower costs, and everyone is covered, and no one pays anything at the point of service. Health care is paid for entirely by taxation - AS IT SHOULD BE!

Posted by: AnonymousBE1 | September 20, 2010 4:53 PM | Report abuse

Pretty good try, there Klein. Only problem is the fudge and the strawman. The public is smarter about how insurance works than you imply. If you insure an automobile after it has crashed, you are not insuring with risk, you are merely a middle man in paying for the damage, and you do so for a fee. The public does not like the bill for its massive intrusion on their personal lives. Please keep advising President Obama to encourage the public to hate businesses and businessmen.

Posted by: chatard | September 20, 2010 4:57 PM | Report abuse

Maybe the best thing that could happen are sweeping Republican victories in 2010 and 2012. Give the Republicans a mandate. And then--and I guarantee it will--that's right, GUARANTEE--this country will implode rapidly under Republican-Tea Party management. Let the uninsured died, let pedophilia and sick Republican weirdness run amok, let law and order break down, let the Tea Party working class lose their jobs and their insurance, let the government fail to respond effectively to disasters, and let the war extend indefinitely. Maybe things have to get a lot worse before they get better.

Posted by: theodorebrown | September 20, 2010 5:01 PM | Report abuse

For Obama it is always blame someone for the things HE has done but we no longer even listen to this empty suit!

Posted by: mct1 | September 20, 2010 5:17 PM | Report abuse

The time to pick the fight with the insurance companies was BEFORE the passage of the 'Obamacare'. The U.S. health care system needed fixing BEFORE throwing 30 million more people into the mix. What incentive do insurance companies have to be cooperative? They are going to be asked to cover many more people with known, chronic health problems. They are going to be asked to cover many more people who either don't know or don't care about living a healthful life (which will result in them having more health care needs). Insurance companies will raise the rates of all the healthy to cover the costs of all the unhealthy. That's just business as usual.

Posted by: Georgetowner1 | September 20, 2010 6:01 PM | Report abuse

Cover everybody for everything with no caps will not make premiums go up much.

In Biden speech, Klein is F--king crazy...

Posted by: jblast2000 | September 20, 2010 6:25 PM | Report abuse

The big flaw, of course, is that insurance companies will continue to do things like this:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ethan-rome/insurance-companies-aband_b_731626.html

If only there was some type of national health care coverage, something that was cheaper because it cut insurance profits out of the picture and no one had to worry about deductibles. I wonder if any other country has something like that?

Posted by: uberblonde1 | September 20, 2010 8:34 PM | Report abuse

Can't wait for this insanity to get thrown out by SCotUS. Costs will only go UP with these provisions. Sorry, Obie is a one termer, if even that.

Posted by: illogicbuster | September 20, 2010 11:01 PM | Report abuse

hey uberblonde,

maybe you should better understand what you're talking about.

Medicare (if that's what you're speaking of) has a $1000+ deductible. Plus Medicare part B that covers doctors charges costs up to $350+ a month in PREMIUM PER PERSON. Then when you add in presciption coverage you're up over $400 a month. If you want a supplement to actually cover that deductible you're at another $150+ a month. So basically for $600 per person per month you can get all you want.

Great deal if you understood it. Let me know when you do.

Posted by: visionbrkr | September 20, 2010 11:36 PM | Report abuse

Widely poplular, yes, because Americans still think they can get something for nothing, and our politicians still try to tell them that's what they are doing.

Coverage until they're 26? Are we EVER going to let our kids grow up?

Wake up America. You can pay your own way or have the government pay it. If you choose the latter you get less for your money. Less service, less coverage, less choice, less freedom. Sure the former is a tough row to hoe, but in the end it pays off much better.

Posted by: dilettante | September 21, 2010 2:10 AM | Report abuse

--"Insurers can no longer discriminate against children for preexisting conditions"--

Instead, the insurers are dropping coverage for all children. Win Win!!!

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/09/20/AR2010092006665.html

It's just another stupid unintended consequence "consistent with the policy outcomes in a centrally planned economy".

Good work, policy wonks!

Posted by: msoja | September 21, 2010 10:27 AM | Report abuse

Klein merely is a mouthpiece for Obama. Klein wrote, "So they're telling beneficiaries that all of their annual cost increase, rather than a small fraction of it, is a result of the new law." The meaning of that statement depends on what the word "small" means. The reality is that Obama's law is INCREASING the cost of medical insurance when Obama and the Democrats INSISTED the law would DECREASE the cost. AND, the cost will increase more and more with each passing year, and add TRILLIONS to the deficiit, especially after 2014 when the law is set to go into full force. The USA is being undermined by Obama, and Obamacare is a significant part of that undermining.

Posted by: DoTheRightThing | September 21, 2010 11:19 AM | Report abuse

If you are still confused about what this bill is all about check this out:

The non-partisan, non-profit research organization the Kaiser Family Foundation, produced a helpful 9-minute cartoon video explaining the basics of the law.

http://www.doubledutchpolitics.com/

Posted by: RyanC1384 | September 22, 2010 12:32 PM | Report abuse

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