One of the biggest political debates going on in Congress and amongst the Presidential candidates is about health insurance and what to do about the entirely dysfunctional fucking system. Republicans favor things like deregulations and tax breaks and whatever, and use the specter of universal coverage to gin up their base. Health insurance companies lobby extensively to avoid being put out of business, as is their right. And some people — Democrats and others — are talking about moving to a system in which the federal government takes it all over. This is the health insurance companies worst nightmare, and for good reason. So, what are they doing to stop it and change the hearts and minds of the significant proportion of Americans who favor universal health care? Their brilliant strategy, after the jump.
They're getting caught giving bonuses to employees who can find ways to boot sick people off their rolls. Because, see, health insurance is only profitable for companies when they can sell it (and the fear of really large medical bills you can't pay) and they don't have to actually, you know, help you pay those bills.
So, in California, the law forbids insurance companies from tying any compensation for claims reviewers to their claims decisions. This leetle tidbit of legal information apparently passed over the heads of some people at Health Net Inc., who openly praised and provided bonuses to one of their underwriters for her excellent work in rescinding the insurance policies of sick people, claiming she was an underwriter, not a claims adjuster. Between 2000 and 2006, the company avoided paying $35 million in medical expenses through the work of this underwriter and her colleagues. Um, yay? The information is all coming out because one of the people whose policies they rescinded — a 51-year old hair salon owner — is suing to get her chemo for breast cancer covered after they rescinded her policy.
Like, great job health insurance companies! You wonder why people think even the government can do a better job than you, despite the fact that nearly every poll shows we regard large swaths of our government with contempt? It's because you do shit like this all the time. Everyone knows someone who's been screwed by a health insurance company, everyone has gotten dicked around at least a little by a health insurance company and, frankly, everyone is paying out the ass anyway for health insurance (except for the 47 million Americans who don't have any). So, maybe, you should take some of the $1 billion dollars you and your insurance compatriots spent on just lobbying the federal government (and God only knows what untold gobs of money on your army of lawyers) and try spending that on patient care, mmkay? I'll bet it might actually cost you less than figuring out ways to screw us all over.
Congress OKs Expanded Kids' Health Care [ABC News]
U.S. Health Care Politics [CBS News]
Health insurer tied bonuses to dropping sick policyholders [LA Times]
Lobbying Spending Database [Opensecrets.org]