Fact Check: Put health plan profits in perspective

Download PDF Report >>> Fact Check – profits and consolidation

Fact Check:  Put health plan profits in perspective

  • Ezra Klein, Washington Post:… it’s hard to see how [health plan profit margins] are a primary driver of health-care spending, much less the growth in health-care spending.”
  • Henry Aaron, Brookings Institute: “Insurance company profits in the large picture have very little to do with the overall rising cost of health care.”
  • Kaiser Health:“With the nation’s health care spending estimated at $2.5 trillion this year, even the elimination of insurers’ profits and executive compen­sation would lower health care spending by just 0.5 percent.”

FACT CHECK CHECKED: Granted, the insurers cut is a miniscule piece of total costs.  But it is still billions of dollars of non medical costs.  Where are they spending them?  It should be in two areas: to responsibly manage insurance and contain costs. If insurers were managing just fine, reforms would not include rule after rule after rule to rein in unsavory practices that occur now.

Cost containment has two faces: price and volume. You can control one or both. Insurers can control volume by denying claims, and here they have been successful.  In the price area, they have utterly failed to contain prices from providers. But Wall Street is indifferent in how one generates earnings, only that one does.  Clearly, insurers’ focus is Wall Street and not Main Street.

Insurers claim they add value by negotiating discounts with providers.  But by insurers’ own admission, those providers simply raise their rates resulting in no actual cost reductions.  Insurers are adding virtually no value, but draw compensation as if they were saving billions.

All large companies pay cost control experts to contain costs. If they fail, the experts are fired or the companies go out of business. Yet insurers exert every conceivable pressure to maintain the status quo which they admit has been a failure in containing healthcare costs.

Download PDF Report >>> Fact Check – profits and consolidation

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