How Much Should Health Insurers Spend On Actual HEALTH CARE?

@anniepa (27280)
United States
October 1, 2009 1:25pm CST
Senator Al Franken has introduced legislation that would require that insurance companies use 90% of the designated $465 billion in government subsidies for actual HEALTH CARE and not just to pad their profits. Read more here: The Senate Finance Committee, which has been marking up its version of the health care reform bill (HR 3200), currently has designated some $465 billion in government subsidies for private insurance companies, with the condition that 85% of said money goes toward providing actual health care (as opposed to marketing, salaries and administrative costs). Senator Franken's legislation would raise that percentage to 90%, demanding stricter controls and increased efficiency from private insurance companies which receive government subsidies. Senator Jay Rockefeller Champions Franken Health Insurance Act On Wednesday night, Senator Rockefeller, who currently sits on the Senate Finance Committee, expressed support for Senator Franken's idea to hold private insurance companies more accountable for any money received from the Federal government. In fact, he went so far as to say on MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann that he planned to introduce Franken's act as an amendment in the Senate Finance Committee's continuing markup of HR 3200. Senate Finance Committee Still Stalled in Negotiations The committee, headed by Senator Max Baucus, remains the only committee left debating which version of its health care bill will be brought out of its committee. Baucus' group has to this point been the most conservative of the committees charged with bringing a health care bill out of committee before it can be taken to the House and Senate floors for a vote. While much of this is due to opposition by Republicans and conservative (Blue Dog) Democrats to some of President Obama's health care plan, some political analysts have cynically suspected that Senator Baucus---who has received millions of dollars in campaign contributions from the health industry---is protecting his own political and financial interests. http://us-state-policy.suite101.com/article.cfm/senator_al_franken_introduces_health_care_bill_ I happen to be among those who believe Senator Max Baucus is "is protecting his own political and financial interests". I also think the insurance companies are already making obscene profits on the backs of people who have actually DIED because of their policies. I very firmly believe that if the health care bill ends up being without a public option and instead is nothing more than corporate welfare taken from the taxpayers and paid to the insurance industry they damn well BETTER spend most of this extra money they're going to get on providing health care! What do you think? I know there will be some who will say otherwise but I'm not anti-business or anti-profits. For MOST things I say a business has the right to charge as much as they feel they can get for their goods and services and the market will decide if or how much of a profit they'll make. Health care which means matters of life or death, financial ruin or survival, should not be among them. Annie
3 people like this
10 responses
@Rollo1 (16650)
• Boston, Massachusetts
1 Oct 09
These subsidies are exactly the reason that the amendment to restrict federal funding for abortion must be in the bill as we discussed in the other discussion. If the government mandates what services must be covered and they give money to the health insurance companies, and if those services include abortion then there is federal funding of abortion. Again, until those mandates are made by the Health Insurance Exchange Commission, there is no guarantee money will not be used for abortions. Those benefits regulations will not be determined until AFTER this is law. Health care does include administration cost. Someone has to receive, review and pay claims. The insurance company has to pay those people. If the government isn't comfortable with health insurance companies meeting their payrolls, perhaps they should put the money in a Health Care Savings Account and people can apply for refunds on their out of pocket health care expenses. Of course, then the government would have to employ people to receive, review and pay those claims. There will always be a cost associated even with giving away money.
2 people like this
@anniepa (27280)
• United States
3 Oct 09
Administration costs have always made up too big of a chunk of our total health care costs, that can't be denied. That's something that I'm sure could be greatly improved in Medicare, which should in turn "free up" some funds for reimbursement to doctors and hospitals. Health Savings Accounts are fine for those who have the extra cash to pay up front to begin with. Many today don't have enough to pay their bills let alone having extra for ANY kind of "savings" account. I STILL respectfully disagree about the abortion amendment. Annie
• United States
4 Oct 09
I really hope the health insurance companies have more sense than to accept any subsidies from the government.
1 person likes this
@anniepa (27280)
• United States
4 Oct 09
Are you kidding? Those greedy crooks would take money from anyone!! Annie
• United States
7 Oct 09
Not if they want to keep government out of their business as much as possible. Government involvement would destroy their business. They just simply don't know how to run a business. You should know that already, Didn't you use to work for the post office? They are always demanding more from the public and giving worse service. Private carriers do a much better job. That will be and is true with private health care insurance carriers versus government run health care insurance.
• United States
10 Oct 09
First we should ask and answer the question what is insurance? With the word insurance defined we can then look for solutions to our problem. I know where to begin...
• United States
10 Oct 09
Hi Annie, I've been a busy person for the past week, I have a request of you, where if you consider this topic important then maybe binding it as an anchor we could together build the right structure. I feel that the Health insurance industries and the Doctors together have created a serious dilemma for our government and us the consumers of their services and (products) which would be the third side to the whole conundrum. They must believe that money has no value or grows on trees or something of that sort. I know people who are itching to get to the bottom of this problem. The time is now to change the way business is done for it is unsustainable left to its own devices.
1 person likes this
• United States
10 Oct 09
If you want to bring about change show the rich man how the corruption and immorality of allowing criminals to run rip shod over society will cost the elite in the long run. Watch the loop holes close. Do you really want to pay for the indiscretions of others? The middle class is over taxed already so the fat cat will have to pay now, as you know the poor have nothing to offer and nothing from nothing is still nothing.
1 person likes this
@anniepa (27280)
• United States
12 Oct 09
I sure do consider this important and I'd like to do anything I can to help make a difference. I agree that the time to change is now because it's going to get completely out of control if something isn't done. Annie
1 person likes this
• United States
13 Oct 09
Can you add a comment to my post that I created so I can link these two posts together... Here is my link: http://www.mylot.com/w/discussions/2153211.aspx and by commenting on my post I can put your link there. The one crucial element is coming up with answers. What drives up the cost? Doctors specializing in high risk fields? Community demand for a particular procedure? Insurance companies that drop pre-existing conditions and the government giving our profits away to others... Note that lawsuits are not a prime source of increased health care costs as the number of settled law suits is infinitesimal in the whole scope of over priced health coverage costs. Once we know all of the issues then we can begin to build a structure to support the greatest number of people possible, maybe each and every person, but what will the cost be? The economy might also have to be reformed.
@irisheyes (4372)
• United States
10 Oct 09
I definitely don't think health care should be for profit. I can still remember a little over ten years ago when I was struggling to start a business and pay the bills. One of the largest of those bills was health care and sometimes I had to stint on food to pay that one every month. (Monthly was the only way I could afford it) At one point, after I'd just learned that my dentist wouldn't accept the Blue Cross dental plan anymore, I picked up a newspaper and read about how the Southeastern Pennsylvania branch of Blue Cross & Blue Shield was sponsoring a rock concert on the river in Philadelphia with big name acts. I hit the ceiling when I read that. It's a complete mystery to how people can think it's okay for their healthcare money to go into things like that. In fact, I think that people would don't use up all of their premium payments in the course of a year whould get some of it back. Not the full amount. Some should go to help the folks out who have heavy medical bills but a portion of the unused money shoud be given back or applied to future premium payments.
1 person likes this
@anniepa (27280)
• United States
12 Oct 09
I'd hit the ceiling too! Especially when you consider people whose claims are denied and yet they can spend that kind of money on a rock concert? The idea that they're now spending a total of $1.4 million per day just lobbying against reform puts me through the roof. I like your idea about giving the people back some of their premiums. Let's face it, there are many people who have paid into health insurance for decades and have rarely or never used it. Annie
• United States
13 Oct 09
Good points in fact excellent points...
@Eisenherz (2910)
• Portugal
2 Oct 09
I think that the access to health should really be simplified and not depends so much on insurance policies and such bureocracies. We sure don't want to face that sort of thing when going through disease and illness..
1 person likes this
@anniepa (27280)
• United States
3 Oct 09
It sounds like you favor a single-payer system which I do, too. Medicare is a single-payer system and while it's run by the government that doesn't mean the government has any say in the care people receive. I think that beats letting insurance execs become billionaires while people are dying because their claims have been denied. Annie
@miamilady (4924)
• United States
1 Oct 09
I do think that IF the government is going to bail somebody out, they should put specifics on how the money is spent. Someone above questioned if 90% is a realistic number and mentioned that administrative costs should be taken into consideration. I don't know what the numbers are, but I do agree that it is something that should be considered when these things are decided.
1 person likes this
@anniepa (27280)
• United States
2 Oct 09
I agree, and I think this is the worst kind of bailout. I don't think for one minute the bill that's coming out of the Senate Finance Committee is going to look anything like the one that finally gets passed but assuming it did, I think it sucks! With no public option included in this version of the bill this simply means those who can't afford to purchase private insurance themselves will get government subsidies which will go to the insurance companies that are responsible for the problems we have in the first place! There will be no competition for the insurers which means there will be no incentive for them to lower their premiums so the costs will continue to skyrocket which means soon there will be even more people who need government help to pay for insurance. When you consider that the insurance companies spend millions on campaign contributions to member of Congress and that they spend $1.4 million per DAY lobbying against reform, I'd say 90% is more than a realistic number. Annie
• United States
1 Oct 09
I wonder if the insurance companies will include the millions they donate to members of congress in the 90% for actual health care.
@Taskr36 (13923)
• United States
1 Oct 09
Nice to see someone else can see what's going on here. The scum we have in Congress take millions in campaign donations from these companies and pay them back with OUR taxpayer dollars.
@anniepa (27280)
• United States
2 Oct 09
Taskr, I've been b1tching about this for months. If the insurance companies would use the money they spend on campaign contributions and lobbyists against health care reform ($1.4 MILLION/day!) they'd have been making huge profits all along even if they DID pay claims instead of doing everything in their power to deny people and drop those who become sick. I know Max Baucus is a Democrat but he's a DINO who takes more money than almost anyone else in Congress from "big insurance". Annie
@Taskr36 (13923)
• United States
2 Oct 09
"I know Max Baucus is a Democrat but he's a DINO who takes more money than almost anyone else in Congress from 'big insurance'" He votes with his party 80% of the time Annie. That hardly makes him a DINO by the standards I've seen you use before. Collins and Snowe are Republicans who vote with Democrats 75% and 80% of the time respectively and you've INSISTED they were simply "moderate republicans". Therefore, according to your past arguments, he's not even CLOSE to being a DINO, or even a moderate democrat.
@Taskr36 (13923)
• United States
1 Oct 09
Ok, so for a second I was thinking Al Franken MIGHT be doing something right, then I looked at what's really going on... Why in the name of all that is holy are we giving $465,000,000,000.00 to private insurance companies!?Why do the democrats, who have been preaching about the evils of private insurance, want to give them this money? We keep hearing about their ridiculous profits, and yet we are expected to give them half a trillion dollars in taxpayer money? This is why you have to scratch beneath the surface. Congress has no business giving them that money at all. It's just being used as another government power grab so they can dictate how private corporations do business. The more money they give, the more they dictate. This is just one more step to get big government to own these companies just as they do with GM, Chrysler, Citibank, etc. Why is it that with an annual deficit of $1.5 Trillion, people like him think that we should up it to $2 trillion by giving money to insurance companies that are raking money in hand over fist?
@bestboy19 (5481)
• United States
1 Oct 09
You've already answered your own question.
@anniepa (27280)
• United States
2 Oct 09
Taskr, it's not the Democrats who want to give them this money; most of them wanted a public option included but the Republicans on the Senate Finance Committee made it clear they wouldn't vote for anything with a public option. This particular bill (the Finance Committee's) is nothing more than corporate welfare for the insurance companies. Uninsured people with lower incomes will receive government subsidies to purchase private insurance, giving the insurers millions of new customers and since they'll have no competition they'll likely continue to gouge the people. At the very least there should be something in there to make sure they spend some of the extra billions they'll be making to actually PAY for their customers' claims for a change! Annie
@mommyboo (13197)
• United States
2 Oct 09
Ins companies should be regulated. There should be the cost as it translates to the doctors or clinics, then there should be the usual and customary, which includes a SMALL markup and then there should be a max allowed, and no ins regardless of option should be able to charge any MORE than the max allowed. ANY ins company should be allowed to charge LESS, especially in order to entice customers. By the way, none of them can whine that they are losing money, if they lose anything it's in the form of profits they shouldn't have been making anyway in the first place. They have no right to cry and complain if they lose it.
1 person likes this
@ZephyrSun (7382)
• United States
1 Oct 09
Well I think holding companies accountable for federal dollars is the best idea I've heard come out of Washington in a very long time. I'm sure that there are to many Congress members that are in the pockets of insurance companies to do this though.
@Taskr36 (13923)
• United States
1 Oct 09
Don't you realize what's going on Zephyr? Of course congress members are in their pockets! They are giving them half a trillion dollars! Do you realize that even if only 10% of that goes in the pockets of the people running the companies that's still 46,500,000,000.00 in unrestricted money that they could put right into executive's pockets? Remember, these are DEMOCRATS giving them that money.
@anniepa (27280)
• United States
3 Oct 09
I'm with you, Zeph. I'm also not too thrilled with some of the Democrats but it is mostly the fault of the GOP that there is no public option in the Senate Finance Committee. If there were, the insurance companies would have no choice but to change their ways and lower their prices (or at least slow the increase) or they'd lose their greedy a$$e$! Annie
@xfahctor (14126)
• Lancaster, New Hampshire
1 Oct 09
I would say first is 90% a realistic mumber? how much of an insurer's cost goes to actual healthcare? How much is involved in adminisrating the company? If this is taken too far and the company cannot cover the cost of adminstration, the company will of course go under.
@anniepa (27280)
• United States
3 Oct 09
If a company goes under it would be purely due to their own stupidity considering the huge profits they're currently making even as they spend billions in campaign donations and lobbying against reform. Annie