Whatever It Is, It’s Not Insurance

Tom Emerick

Posted 5/9/12 on Cracking Health Costs

Discussions about covering “pre-existing” health conditions occur frequently among health policy people. One frequent thread is that health insurers should not be allowed to deny coverage to people with pre-existing health condition. After all, aren’t those the people who need health insurance the most?  Sounds reasonable, doesn’t it?  Problem is that proposition is really not reasonable.

Let me explain.  For any kind of insurance to work right, the “contingent event” can not have already happened before you buy it.  In life insurance, the contingent event is the death of the policyholder.  You can’t buy life “insurance” on someone who has already died.  For homeowners insurance, you can’t buy fire insurance after the home has burned.

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Paul Ryan is Right! (Even Though He’s Wrong!)

Roger Collier

Posted 10/11/11 on Health Care Reform Update

Having cost the Republican Party a Congressional seat earlier this year with his plan to turn Medicare into a voucher program, House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan is back with an even more sweeping health care proposal.

Ryan’s latest offering, unveiled in a speech a week ago at Stanford University’s conservative Hoover Institution, is nothing less than a blueprint for replacing the Affordable Care Act with a consumer-driven model that would eliminate the current tax-exempt treatment of employer-paid health insurance. Is Ryan right? Or wrong?

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Recapping and Handicapping the Massachusetts Health Insurance “Market”

Paul Levy

First published 4/13/11 on [Not] Running a Hospital

The fastest way to raise hackles among Massachusetts hospitals, doctors, insurance companies, and even businesses is to suggest that a state rate-setting body would do a better job in setting payment rates between insurance companies and providers than the marketplace. Well, let’s test the proposition about the efficacy of that “marketplace.” Here is a short synopsis of the experience with the dominant insurance company over the last decade.

First, as documented so clearly by the Attorney General, pay above-market rates to the dominant provider system in Eastern Massachusetts, and also to geographically monopolistic smaller hospitals in the state. Transfer hundreds of millions of dollars in extra revenue to the dominant provider, permitting it to become still more dominant by investing in huge regional ambulatory care centers and acquiring physician groups. In so doing, assure an increase in patient volumes away from lower cost facilities and doctors, helping to fuel the rapid increase in health care costs in the state.

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