Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Don’t Make Us Raise Our Rates

The health insurance industry was, at first, on board with the idea of healthcare reform. Then they saw the Baucus bill and decided that there wasn’t enough in there for them, so now they’re out with their own report on the bill that basically says if it passes, they will raise their rates.

The industry has issued a new report arguing that the weak personal responsibility requirement, taxes on health care providers, spending reductions in Medicare and taxes on high-value health plans will increase “the cost of coverage for both single and family policies in the individual, small group, large group, and self-funded insurance markets.”

That is open to interpretation, of course (see Ezra Klein’s dissection here), but it could also backfire. Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) told MSNBC that such a threat could revitalize support for the public option:

If you have the health care industry complaining that we’re going to raise costs because of these changes, it is them putting us on notice that we haven’t put enough cost containment in the bill. You know, the health care industry themselves is putting out a whole report saying that. That should be a tell to the Baucus team that you know what, maybe it’s time for them to go back and revisit the public option. In a strange way, and look, obviously they didn’t mean this, the health insurance lobby today fired the most important salvo in weeks for the public option, because they have said, as clear as day, left to their own devices, according to their own number crunchers, they’re going to raise rates 111%.

I’m not exactly sure that is the outcome the healthcare insurance industry was hoping for. Perhaps they should re-think their plan.