Thoughts on the HCR bill

New Economic Perspectives has a critique of what’s wrong with this “reform” – it solidifies the central position of the ridiculously inefficient private insurers:

Very briefly, the most significant outcome of this legislation is the windfall gain for insurance companies—who will be able to tap the wages of the huge pool of nearly 50 million Americans who currently do not purchase health insurance. Since many of these are too poor to afford the premiums, the government will kick in hundreds of billions of dollars to line the pockets of health insurers. This legislation has nothing to do with improving health services for the currently under-served — it is all about increasing the insurance sector’s share of the economy…

There is nothing in the deal that will significantly reduce health care costs. At best, it will simply shift more costs to employers and employees—higher premiums, higher deductibles, higher co-pays, and more exclusions forcing higher out-of-pocket expenses and personal bankruptcies.

The Agonist has a similar perspective:

This is a bill that the insurance industry, for-profit hospitals and pharmaceutical companies will accept. They’re willing to accept it because without the sorts of “reforms” contained in this bill they will experience catastrophic failure and massive amounts of popular ill will in the not too distant future. That’s why it’s accurate to call this a preemptive bailout rather than reform.

At this point, the bill does not regulate insurance rates. It stipulates that you can’t be denied coverage or limited in your use of insurance, but it does not regulate how much you’ll pay for that coverage. It only says that you’re required to purchase coverage. The end effect then is to entrench the current system so deeply that further reforms are unlikely to be successful…actual reform that is. Politicians may fiddle around the edges, but the system that delivers sub-optimal care at great cost is here to stay…

Never mind the happy talk about how people without coverage will soon be transported to a magical land of possessing health insurance. This bill privatizes the profits and socializes the losses, funneling tax dollars to insurance companies rather than using them to provide health care. Mr. Obama and his party have found a way to subsidize a value subtracting industry and do so on your dime, all while telling you that this is the best they can do and that it all comes from their great love for you, the peasants.

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