More Fallout From Obamacare, Fewer Insurance Companies and Less Choice

We have to pass the bill so you can find out what is in it – Nancy Pelosi

Principal Financial Quits Writing Health-Care Policies

One of my harshest criticisms of Obamacare was the secretive manner in which it was written. Drafted behind closed doors by congressional staffers and lobbyists, Pelosi, Reid and Obama did not make the bill available for review before passage. The ability to deliver votes or large campaign contributions determined who had input into the bill.

Large insurance companies were one such pressure group, along with trade unions, allowed to influence the actual wording of the legislation. Although large insurance companies are motivated by profit and not the health of their patients, no one can accuse them of stupidity. A simple number these companies surreptitiously managed to slip in the bill will simultaneously guarantee their profits and destroy their competition. The article referenced is the first example of one such deception.

Hidden the 2000 pages of the health care bill is the requirement that 80-85% of health care premiums be spent of patients for actual health care. For those ignorant about the functioning of insurance companies, (Congress, Obama, the national press and the populace), such a number seems quite reasonable. It keeps those greedy insurance companies from taking too much of the money for themselves, and guarantees money for patients. In actuality, this numerical requirement will limit choice, increase costs, and insure the dominance of the legacy insurance companies.

Paying health care claims involved fixed and variable costs. These fixed costs include complex computer and software systems to deal with the arcane medicare rules prescribed by the government. Once these systems are installed, scaling them to larger operations is less expensive. Hence, as insurance companies get larger, their fixed costs become a smaller percentage of overall expenditures, which is common in many industries.

Meeting the 80% ratio is therefore far easier for larger than smaller companies, and will be virtually impossible for new start-up insurance companies. I think the 80% number was not just pulled out of the air, but probably represents the ratio already being spent by Anthem, Aetna, United Health, and the other large companies.

So in one stroke of the pen, large insurance companies have been able to force out smaller companies, eliminate the possibility of new competition and assure themselves of a 15-20% profit margin. I would say Insurance companies campaign donations were money well spent. The outcomes for the rest of us will be fewer choices, little innovation, lack of competition, and further centralization of power in the hands of a few large corporations.

The secretive manner in which Obamacare was written insures more deceptions remain to be discovered. Who knows what other pressure groups and lobbyists have slipped into the bill to protect their interests at the expense of the American people? I will not be surprised, nor am I optimistic.