It's the old venture capitalist axiom:
Step 1: Sell health insurance to healthy people.
Step 2: Deny them when they get sick.
Step 3: Profit!
Well, maybe it's a slightly different version of the same old story, but it is the same old story. And AHIP's release of their new health care plan is a just repackaging of the same old story.
The insurance industry has awoken to the fact that nobody likes them. It should come as no surprise when nearly every insured person in America experiences insurers as the people who denied care or services when they really needed it, including the president-elect of the United States. Now, they have decided to try to re-market themselves as the reformed good guy, who really wants you to get health care, with just a few *tiny* exceptions:
- When you get a chronic disease
- When you are a woman of child-bearing age
- When you are old
- When you are already sick
Richard Kirsch, HCAN National Campaign Director, summed it up saying, "AHIP’s plan still lets insurers charge higher premiums for older and sicker people and for women. Their proposal pushes high-deductible plans and still lets insurance companies decide whether or not to approve the care your doctor says you need. " Read Richard's full statement.
They plan to stick taxpayers with the bill of the people they don't want to pay for. For example, the health insurance industry’s solution to medical bankruptcy isn’t to give people good health coverage but to have the government bail-out families who go bankrupt because they have lousy health coverage. In his response the AHIP announcment, Richard asks, "How can the health insurance industry propose reform which still lets families go bankrupt and expect to be taken seriously?"
The truth is the health insurance industry tried this before, and it didn't work. They had their chance. We need reasonable regulation of the health insurers and a choice of a public plan that provides quality, affordable care to everyone. They will never reform until they compete on a level playing field that puts people's health first.
When it comes to the AHIP's health care plan, there is only one thing we have to remember:
“We will not sacrifice profitability for membership.”
- Angela Braly, WellPoint CEO in a conference with investment analysts, April 2008