What is So Great About Private Health Insurance ? Ask Wendell Potter

Most significant challenges deserve objective analysis based on economic principals. Supply and demand being at the core. Things costing to much ? The explaination is usually a lack of competition or artifical restrictions among alternative options for buyers. Not enough supply ? Barriers to entry , government restrictions or diminishing prospects for profit can be at the root. Interestingly, when it comes to health care what people pay for and what they get is at the core of the problem and private insurance intermediaries are profiting from market inefficiencies. In the end the private for profit insurance industry delivers no real or sustained value and this is central to the health care crisis because they slice the pie with the main objective being their profits, not a uniform allocation of risk and costs among populations to make the cost for all lower. This runs counter to the purpose of insurance, particular for a risk that we all are subjected to, our health. This is why the public option being debated in Congress isn't the answer to impact costs and coverage; what is is universal coverage that eliminates private insurance.

Recently Wendell Potter shared his views as a high ranking former insurance executive. During Congressional hearings in June 2009 he reminded us all that health insurance executives had assured Congress in 1993 they would work to secure universal medical coverage and end denials of coverage to people with pre-existing conditions. Then they moved heaven and earth to kill reform. They've made the same promises now, Potter observed. But they're in an even better position to throttle reform. Mergers and acquisitions have turned the industry into a cartel of huge corporations.

"The industry is bigger, richer and stronger, and it has a much tighter grip on our healthcare system," he said. "The last thing they want is a government program set up as their competition."

See Potter's interview on Bill Moyers Journal wherein he describes the realities of the health care insurance business.

If Potter's observations aren't enough, read the Los Angeles Times' Michael Hiltzik's recent article What's so great about private health insurance?: The bloody battle in Congress over a 'public option . In it he explains some basic facts.

The firms take billions of dollars out of the U.S. healthcare wallet as profits, while imposing enormous administrative costs on doctors, hospitals, employers and patients. They've introduced complexity into the system at every level. Your doctor has to fight them to get approval for the treatment he or she thinks is best for you. Your hospital has to fight them for approval for every day you're laid up. Then they have to fight them to get their bills paid, and you do too.

People should remember what the health care nightmare in the U.S. really involves. Insurers are part of the problem, not the solution. That observation is nothing but straight forward economics.