6.29.2009

Do Not Pass Go, Do Not Collect $200

TPM's Zack Roth highlights and expands on a report based on analysis of AMA data:
The report, released by Health Care for America Now (HCAN), uses data compiled by the American Medical Association to show that 94 percent of the country's insurance markets are defined as "highly concentrated," according to Justice Department guidelines. Predictably, that's led to skyrocketing costs for patients, and monster profits for the big health insurers. Premiums have gone up over the past six years by more than 87 percent, on average, while profits at ten of the largest publicly traded health insurance companies rose 428 percent from 2000 to 2007.

As Roth notes in his article title, the healthcare market is "characterized by consolidation, not competition," and this is why it is spiraling out of control. The optimist would logically conclude that this bodes well for legislation that would create a public option and end the monopolization. But Washington's power center sees it differently.
That's because insurers who control large swathes of a given market stand to see their bottom lines particularly threatened by the introduction of a lower-cost public option. So, in turn, they'll be particularly aggressive in pulling out all the stops to pressure lawmakers to oppose the plan. Given the healthy amount of campaign dollars that some wavering members take in from the major insurers, that's hardly encouraging.

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