Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Pity the poor Health Insurance Industry

All right, I’m giving fair warning to all you Glenn Beck-watching, Rush Limbaugh-listening devotees. Cast your eyes rightward to the writings of Ray O’Hanlon, a sound and decent man, for I’m about to mention both the G and S words many times in the course of this column.
“Oh Jaysus, no! Here he goes again,” murmurs the gentleman up in Pearl River who peppers me with anatomically impossible suggestions of what I should do with myself sexually and otherwise.
But I ask you, what’s a poor Paddy to do? I was raised at a time when the Government was looked upon as an institution that might go to bat for you when all else failed, and in a place where Socialism was just another way of looking at things.
Of course, the times were simpler and you didn’t have to put much thought into health insurance. The Government looked after that by lifting a chunk of change from your weekly pay packet. Far from traumatizing you, this institutionalized lightening allowed more time to ponder important matters like could Christy Moore follow up Lisdoonvarna or would Clare ever manage the hurling and football double?
Health Insurance caused little concern unless you fancied a semi-private hospital room, in which case you dug deep and ponied up a sufficiency of Punts. But even then it was far from an existential, sweat-the-night issue.
Over here, though, I spend a lot of time fretting about the state of the Health Insurance industry. And I’m not even referring to my annual pint-glass smashing rants occasioned when my own beloved provider informs me that it has yet again been forced to raise the premium.
No, like most Americans, I worry about big Government actually going into competition with these altruistic, humanitarian organizations and, horror of horrors, driving them out of business.
After all fair is far, and how can we expect these philanthropic, never-refuse-a-sick-person shrinking violets to go mano-a-mano with over-bloated, steroid-popping, humongous big Socialist Government?
Occasionally, however, in the fleeting moments of clarity around my third pint, I wonder what these humanitarian outfits are so afraid of? Could it be that people might intrinsically prefer big old bumbling Government to private conglomerates who don’t give a tinker’s curse about anything besides the bottom line and senior management bonuses?
I ask you, what’s the most popular institution in this country apart from Oprah and your local Uggs outlet? Hands down, it’s the military, an enterprise run solely by Big Government and funded by our taxes. Sounds suspiciously like Socialism to me. Hey, Bill O’Reilly, you first read about it here.
But let’s give credit where it’s due. Bill, Glenn and Rush have one thing patently correct. This Health Insurance bill inching its way through Congress will cost much more than projected - unless it provides for a Public Option.
The Health Insurance Industry is an ace away from pulling off the score of the century - up to 30 million new suckers being forced into a federally unregulated system where premiums will continue to skyrocket.
Recent polls would suggest that the majority of Americans are ignoring the G and S word phobia fostered by lobbyists and the conservative media. They know that the Health Insurance Industry cleared 26 billion bucks last year. They see the practicality and ultimate benefits of competition.
But with up to 2 million dollars being spent a day to ensure that no meaningful Public Option alternative is offered, I wouldn’t count on big Government arriving with the cavalry. Too many Democrats and Republicans have taken the Health Insurance Industry’s shilling or are up for re-election in states where Bill, Glenn and Rush can make a difference in 2010.
Employing Justice Department statistics it is estimated that the dominant insurance company faces little competition in 94% of markets nationally.
C’mon, guys, give a brother a break! Why not let Big Government take a crack at driving down prices. I mean, everyone and their mother is just dying to live to be 65 so that they can get a piece of Medicare. And Big Government is not doing such a bad job running that.
Oh no, another letter from my friendly health care provider just landed in the hall. Lock up those pint glasses!


  1. I am a Black 47 fan and work for a major health insurance company and getting tired of the government and others demonizing our industry (be careful - your industry may be targeted next). What started out as 'Health Care Reform', turned into 'Health Insurance Reform'. Rising costs of health care is what determines what premiums are - not the other way around. I fear though I will be out of a job in the near future...but I at least the govt will provide me with health insurance...

  2. well said black 47 about the poor paddy.your argue is so beautiful


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