When Private Insurers Are No Longer Private

The New Republic’s Jonathan Cohn reports that IMS, a respected global research and consulting firm, projected back in March that American drug companies would actually suffer negative growth from 2008–13. Then came Obamacare — or even the prospect of it. Now, as of last month, IMS has updated its projections to reveal that American drug companies will instead enjoy 3.5 percent annual growth over the same period. So, compounded over five years, drug companies will now grow by 18.8 percent by the time Obamacare would even go into effect. What a difference six months makes!

The left-leaning Cohn writes, “What changed? A major factor, according to IMS, was the emerging details of health care reform.”

Remember all of those comments by President Obama about insurance companies and their “record profits”? One wonders why he didn’t instead say, “We need health-insurance reform so that health insurers can grow.” Or how about this? “We need decisions to be made by lobbyists and congressmen in Washington, and paid for by you at home.” Did these lines not test well in focus groups?

Private insurers’ fate is starting to sound a lot like that of union workers at GM. If Obamacare passes, against the will of the American people, then the government will gain more and more control, but insurers/GM will still get their piece of the pie (and an extra slice to boot), protected by Washington and financed by taxpayers. The insurers/GM won’t really be part of private enterprise anymore. They won’t be offering a truly private product to the American people. They will be almost entirely dependent on the government. But they won’t go hungry — at least until the whole house of cards comes tumbling down.

Meanwhile, the American people are staring down the barrel at higher premiums, higher taxes, higher deficits, and worse health care. Polls consistently show — by wide margins — that Americans expect all four of these to hit them. No wonder polls also clearly show that Americans oppose Obamacare. President Obama and the congressional Democrats are pushing forward at their peril.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, the House Republican bill would have lowered premiums, lowered deficits, and would not have imposed new taxes. Furthermore, it would not have degraded the quality of care.

It’s time for Senate Republicans to seize upon that plan and add a tax-cut for the uninsured and self-insured — leaving the rest of the tax code untouched — thereby bringing about real health-care reform that the American people can embrace. Americans are thirsting for an alternative that would benefit them and not the lobbyists. Republican senators would be well-served to provide it.

Nothing contained in this blog is to be construed as necessarily reflecting the views of the Pacific Research Institute or as an attempt to thwart or aid the passage of any legislation.

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