Ethics Whisperer

Monday, March 1, 2010

Mysteries of Healthcare Reform

1. Why are health insurance premiums going up?

All companies raise prices to insure against future uncertainty. With healthcare reform targeting health plans, the plans are trying to position themselves to withstand a shit storm of legislative stupidity.

2. Why do health insurance companies have (limited) anti-trust exemptions?

These exemptions were intended to lower the price of health insurance and force companies to cover remote groups. For example, in rural areas where people are dispersed and may not form natural groups, it was unappealing to write health insurance. The anti-trust exemptions are intended to make it more appealing to write these groups by giving the companies a larger pool over which to spread the cost.

3. Why do drugs cost more in the US than elsewhere?

Drug companies are forced to sell at low and below market prices in Canada and Europe by their government-run healthcare entities. The costs of developing and marketing new drugs is pushed back on US consumers. Our government is supposed to impose tariffs and trade restrictions on foreign countries who control the prices of our products in this way, but refuses to do so. So your grandmother is buying inhalers for German skiers. Nice. Why won’t our government address this issue? The emperor does not enjoy standing naked.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could talk about what really needs to happen in healthcare instead of engaging in a political shadow dance?

copyright Mark Pastin, 2010

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