Biz leaders say ‘no thanks’ to health reform

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If Congress and President Obama are looking to  employers for support for the latest healthcare bill, the best advice may be, “Look elsewhere.”

A recent survey of 160 employers revealed that most of the bosses believe healthcare reform will lead to higher healthcare costs and a weakening of control over how employers provide coverage to workers.

Here are the numbers from the survey, conducted by business consultant Watson Wyatt:

  • 73% believe healthcare costs will increase if current reform legislation is enacted.
  • 86% think the legislation would weaken the role and control of employer-sponsored plans.
  • Only 29% would support a tax on high-income employees with high-cost plans as a way to fund health reform.
  • Only 19% would support a tax on insurers of high-cost plans.
  • Only 11% would support taxing employer contributions to health care as income.
  • Only 10% would support a mandate for employers to provide coverage.
  • 50% would support a mandate for workers to carry coverage.

0 thoughts on “Biz leaders say ‘no thanks’ to health reform”

  1. On the list above in the article; are any of those things going to be good for you and I, the people who work and raise families? They clearly won’t be good for small business owners, and they know it. (They’ve read the bill….. has your representitive?) So who is it good for then? A: The ‘entitlement nation’; the slackers and takers, the baby mamas and deadbeat dads, the soon to be ‘new Americans’, the illegal immigrants…. but most of all, it’s good for the Democrats and the current administration. More government, more money, more favors, more power. Is dismantling the ‘American Experiment’, the most successful governmental form in the history of man really what YOU wanted?

  2. I don’t find it shocking that business leaders that are the highest paid and normally have better coverage than their employees, are against health care reform. Maybe they should ask the employees that can’t afford the cost of out of pocket expenses not covered by underfunded insurance plans what they think. I don’t understand why business owners and leader wouldn’t welcome the chance to remove insurance from benefits offered to employees from the work place. I don’t see them jumping at the chance to pay part of my auto insurance. Anyone that thinks a total reduction in health care cost is not going benefit everyone doesn’t understand the world we live in. The current reform may not be perfect the first time around but can be amended and changed as pain points are identified. The only thing that everyone should agree on is the current system is broken and needs to be fixed. The only thing dragging it out accomplishes is stopping financial regulatory bills from being presented on the floor.

  3. I would ask those business leaders what they would do if their child needs health care. I bet their tune would change fast.
    Patrick is right. One of the reasons that American businesses are at a disadvantage globally is that the company occurs some of the cost of the healthcare and has to pass it on to the consumer.
    Why is that other industrialized countries can do this and we can’t? I lived for several years in Britain and never had a problem with doctors or healthcare for my son. Don’t listen to propaganda but check out the facts. The health care reform will more than likely cause some costs to go up initially and it may take a while to see the benefits but doing nothing is not an alternative. What do these “business leaders” think will happen if things aren’t changed?

  4. Surveys are often malleable as guides to public policy decision-making. Business-oriented publications are often themselves led by people whose opinions are influenced by media outlets that repeatedly broadcast commonly held beliefs about business thinking, mantras that are well known: taxes are bad; successful leaders are entitled to unlimited pay packages; shareholders demand and deserve high quarterly profits, and so on.
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    The survey might had been worded differently, for example: “do you believe that a public expansion of Medicare that provides coverage for all Americans and eliminates the profit incentive in health care would help keep America competitive in the global markets?” Perhaps the responses might have been more favorable. No one would argue that a tax-reliant public investment in infrastructure (roads, bridges, ports, rail lines) is bad for private enterprise; yet the present health care system is a weak link in our national infrastructure: its costs are hard to manage, it yields an ever lower return in per capita health indicators, and it drives many people into ruinous debt when illness strikes.

    I run a small company that is putting part of a surplus into first-time health coverage for our staff, because we want to retain good people. This is just good planning for us, but it’s hard to replicate and may be hard to maintain. I’d rather we had Medicare for all so that I’d worry less about the health and financial well being of my staff and could focus all more on our corporate mission.

  5. Mr. Layton is spot on correct, could not of said it better. Obama’s bunch is dead wrong again. The plan will not work out better than the best health care system in the world. Until they stop trying to mess with the private business sector(i.e. Banks, Auto Industry, and Health Care), we will not bounce back very strong. This is due to low corporate and consumer confidence. Americans are hunkered down, largely due to all the fake crisis talk and ram it down our throats tactics in Washington D.C.

    To Mr. Adkins, that cool-aide will not taste as good coming back up as it did going down.

  6. I don’t know who the survey was gathered from, almost all the small business owners I know, consider the present system broken. Once again this year our insurers wanted to increase our premiums by 25% over last year. Eventually we settled for a 10% increase, once again lowering our coverage by higher deductibles, higher visit co-pays and higher prescription costs to our employees. The brokers maintain we’re one of the “luckier” companies since we have a “younger” workforce. The foreseeable future is the consistent erosion of benefits at a steadily increasing cost year over year. Every year we have to address different rules, higher premiums and the nagging disappointment that every year we’ll be providing our employees with less coverage at a higher cost. Just the fact that we are assessed as a single pool of employees is an anomaly – the insurers are covering millions of people why is it that small businesses bear the brunt of the mayhem just because their “pools” are smaller?

    Any system is flawed, but the one we have simple seems to be a super highway to diminishing coverage for an exponentially higher annual cost.

  7. Wow! Great comment Gary Layton. Let’s bring in the right wing talking points. That should be a big help – just like the Republicans in congress. They have really tried to work on a plan that will benefit the country. RIGHT – NOT!!!

    I am a small business owner that sees his (and my employees’) health insurance rates go up every year at a much higher rate than income or increases in the prices of anything else. We have to change carriers every two or three years to get the lowest (rip off) rates. I also have someone right now I would like to hire, but if I did (because of pre-existing conditions) I would not be able to afford the rates. In fact, he is on COBRA from a company that laid off his entire division – and can only hope that he finds a job with another large company so he can get insurance. He cannot even get any kind of insurance because of his past health issues.

    It is so amazing how the insurance industry has played all of these “Biz Leaders” for fools. Maybe the “Biz Leaders” are the ones that can afford the rates and just do not care about their employees and other people…. I just don’t get it.

  8. Patrick Adkins hit it right on the nose. We are paying up to twice as much as our international competitors for health care and receiving results only marginally better than third world countries. The burden the current system places on us as small business owners is staggering, even though we can only afford to provide marginally effective insurance coverage for our employees. Virtually every other industrialized nation has figured out how to provide basic health care to all its citizens at an acceptable cost. If we fail to progress in that direction now, we will be leaving our children a legacy of incompetence they will have to live with for many years.

  9. As a small business owner, healthcare is one of our largest expenses. Overall our healthcare system is too expensive for us to be competative. Healthcare is draining us like a vampire along with buying oil from other countries.

  10. Nicole Bertelli

    I can’t even begin to understand this article. I am one of these business leaders they are citing and I have worked with both large companies and small companies in an executive capacity.

    ABSOLUTELY there must be healthcare reform, insurance reform, whatever you want to call it. Our healthcare costs are becoming the biggest problem in our continuing as a company – not because we do not make good products and don’t have great customers. When we have to use 75% of our HR dept’s time trying to find the best way to insure our employees because the health care is so expensive instead of solving other important HR issues, healthcare is broken. When 30% of our operating budget is going to healthcare (instead of funding product development or business development), healthcare is broken. You want to solve unemployment? Lower healthcare costs for companies and we would all be hiring more desperately needed people.

  11. To Jim Giuliano: Perhaps you’re not getting the overwhelming conservative responses you had expected? Great comments here from most of you.

  12. Patrick…I agree that the health care needs fixed. Who doesn’t agree? The idea of the government getting it right the first time, I agree again, it’s not going to happen. However your rose color glasses need to come off with you thinking they will ever come back to this by fixing amended points. The problem is not just between the two parties, the biggest problem is the trust in government this is GONE! The congress sitting in their warm fuzzy offices, are they getting hit with any 20% pay cuts on their check? They have budget cuts so layoff people that’s the solution. The health care they get is never going to be the same as the care I will ever get. We need the government, congress each one to step up, get on the same page with the taxpayers, the small businesses. Do you hear the government saying they know how hard it is for all Americans, but do they feel it? Do they have their pay cut 20%, or no more paid vacation time, or no paid Holidays? What have they given up? The taxpayers have to tighten their belts and things are going to be that way for a little longer, a little longer, Oh…congress has to take their vacation. We’ll come back to this problem! As long as it does not affect them, it will be a debate between parties. We are the sidekicks, the cheerleaders, not their boss. After all they are suppose to be working for us “we the people”. Until congress starts to share the pain they will not come up with a solution. This is not just about Health care reform, so the debate continues…..

  13. I don’t know about anyone else, but no matter what company I worked at large or small, I had wonderful insurance coverage. Has anyone ever considered what the business owner pays out in premiums vs. what the employer asks of its employees? Usually, the employee gets their healthcare for free and just has to pay a PORTION of their dependent coverage. What is everyone griping about? Nothing is free in this world. In the end, whatever the ‘government’ PAYS for is ultimately paid for by the taxpayer. Um, that is you and I. Don’t you get it? I don’t want the government telling me what doctor I can see and what procedure I am ‘worthy’ of. I have never been refused a test or procedure by our insurance company. I have NO idea what you people are talking about. NO to so-called healthcare reform. Why did the Democrats block the bill to allow citizens to cross state lines to compare/shop for insurance companies?? Hmmmm.

  14. “do you believe that a public expansion of Medicare that provides coverage for all Americans and eliminates the profit incentive in health care would help keep America competitive in the global markets?
    Rewording the question to this as suggested above wouldn’t be accurate. The proposed plan wants to take 500 billion dollars FROM the Medicare program, not expand it. Let’s be honest, tort reform is an important but completely ignored aspect. It must be addressed so ‘defensive medicine’ can be halted. People with pre-existing conditions need an ‘assigned risk pool’ or similar concept so companies doing business in a geography have to help out… but can you cite any examples of ‘competitive, service-oriented’ non-profits? And you cannot pay real bills with savings! (anyone with a wife who ‘saved’ half of an expensive purchase knows that the bill still comes in for the other half of the purchase. There is nothing saved) You cannot add coverage for at least 30 million people for nothing. At the end of the day, this is about ‘economic justice’ as Obama defines it. You work hard, you have money; in Obamaworld that means that the needy have rights to stuff and you have the obligation to foot the bill. After all the smooth talk and fancy footwork, that’s what this is about.

  15. I am a business owner and the survey results do not represent my view either. Health insurance is the fastest growing expense that we have – and we are relatively healthy. If one of my employees gets sick our cost could go up by 30% or more in one year. This needs to be fixed.

  16. As a small business owner; I have a hard time seeing survey results of a 160 businesses from a company that services are unaffordable to most small to mid size business and thinking it is unbiased. I know from my own situation and most of my small business friends, if we don’t fix this healthcare system with a public option, we’re not going to be able to afford insurance.

  17. Most of the comments above come from people who have no clue whatsoever about medical insurance, why it costs what it does, and how the system has gotten us to where we are, so I’ll refrain from defining it except to say it’s not the business owners and insurance companies who are to blame. It’s the government who requires many mandates on the policies which drive costs; it’s the malpractice insurance required to practice medicine which demands “defensive” medicine in even minor cases; and it’s government (again, no surprise) which doesn’t permit tax breaks to individuals who would buy their own insurance and won’t allow interstate purchases of insurance which would reduce costs.
    Everyone blames the insurance companies when they are the last link in the cost scenario.

  18. It sounds like most of you already have health insurance. Does your employer pay? How long do you think your employer will pay if health care costs continue to rise at 7-9% per year? Can you afford to pay your own insurance in an open market? Can you even get insurance on your own?
    My family pays $15,000 per year for health insurance. We’ve just been told that it will go up 7% next year and starting January 1 our co-pays double. You folks really want to do nothing?

  19. It is amazing to read some of the responses on this sight. I cant believe that any small businessman would be against major changes in our health care system including a public option. To claim that the insurance industry is not to blame for our health care crisis is Alice In Wonderland logic. The insurance companies are in business to make money thats their job and they are doing it with a vengence. Why is it that we have the most expensive health care costs in the world and getting the least amount of results. Its not the government and its not the lawyers. Its our politicians and insurance companies that have created a system thats broken. Create a public option, and fix some of the most outrageous insurance company practices and watch our health care system catch up with the rest of the world.

  20. Note that the Republicans’ retort, the Patient’s Choice Act “eliminates the employer deduction for health insurance” (http://campbell.house.gov/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2559&Itemid=73)

    Whether from the left or right, changes are coming–as they must–and our best recourse is to put down idealogical pitchforks and become informed citizens. The CBO is the swing vote that both sides of the aisle point to to buttress claims (only when convenient.) If you’re angry enough to complain, you should be angry enough to read bipartisian analysis (e.g., malpractice tort reform results in inconsequential savings; co-ops will acquire no significant market share) at http://cboblog.cbo.gov/?p=193.

    I, too, am a small business owner (in the independent principality of Texas, no less) and fullly support big changes, such as a MedPAC with teeth. My friends–doctors, execs or fellow biz owners–are all self-avowed Republicans and agree that the climate on the right has gotten ridiculously virulent and that the status quo will only lead to insolvency…as would tinkering around the edges.

  21. Well, I guess I was not in the 160 “business leader” category since I was not contacted. Being in business for 24 years, I would welcome the reform and the “public” component. The insurance companies are the ones with the lobbies winning the hearts, minds and campaign coffers of our representatives (who are afforded pretty good health insurance paid by the rest of us). The majority of our population can ill afford the cost for coverage. As one of the most wealthy nations, it is unconscionable!!!

  22. I think that Congress is insincere and in the pockets of the insurance companies. It’s way past time to call for their arrest and all tossed in jail.

    Without the so-called Public Option, there can be no real health care reform.

    This is a complete repeat of the no-fault crap pushed onto us taxpayers back in the ’80’s. You can’t learn from history if you aren’t willing to read. We now pay (in real money terms) 4 to 5 times for car insurance today versus what we used to pay for auto insurance. The same is happening to health insurance today.

    Insurance Companies are writing the reform laws so we are not going to get reform, we are going to get higher rates, no choice, more denials of coverage, forced to pay and that’s all!

    As a small employer, we are completely priced-out of the health insurance market now. I have no idea what we can do if we are forced to pay higher rates. We will have to shut down.

  23. LEU: I will tentatively agree when you say business owners are not at fault for the current crisis…they are caught in the middle up to and until the point that they start to side with the insurance industry to prevent any progress in reform. THEN they start to bear some of the blame. However, what planet are you on to claim that insurance companies are innocent? After all, they only deny payment of claims; deny coverage; and pass along costs to the consumer whenever their profit margins do not meet expectations. I’m not saying they are totally to blame for this mess, but they are certainly not innocent.

  24. If we used car insurance like we use health insurance, we’d all be on foot. Probably healthier for it! We need a system of insurance that works like insurance is designed to do: guard against the catastrophic and unlikely event. Paired with that we need a system of preventive care benefits – to help make the catastrophic event unlikely. Both systems need to include the healthy participation of the person involved. If you eat badly, don’t exercise, smoke and use/abuse substances, etc. your costs are higher because, guess what? you made the unlikely inevitable. We need absolute support for and funding of effective prevention and maintenance care, whether you’re talking chronic diseases like diabetes or lifestyle diseases like cardiovascular disease. It just flat costs less in terms of dollars and quality of life to do the right thing at the right time as aggressively as you can. Businesses that invest in promoting healthy lifestyles and support preventive care realize real benefits to their bottom line as employees consume less catastrophic care and their days or hours away from productive work is reduced.

  25. Mandating insurance coverage without providing a mechanism for small groups to obtain affordable coverage is absurd! Without looking at a large enough pool of members like large employers, no small business can afford to purchase coverage and stay in business, and they can’t price there services up enough to cover the overhead and be competitive with large businesses. Since small busineses fuel the economy this would be a disaster, and nobody is focusing on the real issue which is that small businesses can’t purchase coverage at the same price as large groups. The only winner with mandated coverage is the insurance companies unless there is a mandated large-group premium option available to small businesses to go with it. To “allow” employers to purchase a medicare-type coverage directly from the government at rates similar to large group premiums would be the best option, but no one wants to accept the reality that this is coverage the insurance companies can’t or won’t provide and it is business that they currently don’t have or want anyway. The funding could come from premiums paid directly to medicare (or some other name) paid monthly by employers. It is not competition from the government with private sector because it is all NEW business and won’t compete with private industry as long as the governments premium actuarial tables are financially sound. I know the government option is always 5 times more expensive and 20% as efficient than it should be, but it is still going to be cheaper and the only affordable option for the small employer.

  26. I didn’t state the insurance companies are innocent – just that they are the low end of the spectrum compared to actual costs. My concern is that if we got government out of the picture many of the costs would go away. Also, if we allowed competition of the free market – minus mandates, and let people cross state lines to buy insurance – that would reduce costs as well.
    Remember folks – insurance is NOT pre-paid health care, which is what most folks want. I say, make health care insurance just like auto insurance and many of the problems go away. That, and get rid of the trial lawyers effect on the industry.

  27. Healthcare reform – YES! Obamacare – NO! You need to distinguish between fixing a broken healthcare system and abandoning our current system for a Government-controlled bureaucratic nightmare. Were the employers polled talking about the former or the latter?

  28. This article is very shoddy reporting. Where is a citation for the survey? Who was polled? (I.e. what does “boss” mean, CxOs, VPs, Directors, owners? Were these the only questions in the poll? When was the poll taken? Who funded the survey? Sheesh. This article is worse than useless. But, since the author didn’t provide any reference material, I’ll assume this is the survey: http://www.watsonwyatt.com/news/press.asp?ID=22372

  29. Just reading back through the comments…. It seems the ones against real health care reform are mostly just speaking politically. No one that has identified themselves as small business owners is against reform. And some show their true colors by calling it “Obamacare”.

    I would also venture a guess that all of those opposed to changing have never really had a serious health issue where the insurance company has the power to deny claims. Our system is NOT the best in the world and needs changing.

  30. Esther: As opposed to an uncontrolled bureaucratic nightmare where the insurance companies have free reign? Without government oversight what do you think we would end up with? And don’t even say the free market would police itself.

  31. Gordon: Since when is making a profit a crime or a bad thing? If no one made a profit, then no one would work. You are talking communism if you are against anyone making a profit. Why don’t you go after the high cost of movies? Actors sure as heck make more money (obscenely) than do insurance companies. And how about Michael Jordan? How much was the price of a ticket to see him — play — basketball? Did anyone complain about that high price?? and now he’s building a $7 MILLION dollar house in Florida. I don’t hear anyone complaining about that. Let me hear the Obama administration start laying down laws about limiting a basketball player’s salary, like they do about businessmen. Or an actor’s salary. Come on, play fair. You can’t have it both ways.

  32. I am so disappointed in the attacks on the President that so personalize an effort that any serious leader must make to fix this system. “Obamaworld” is our world, just as “Bush-speak” was “our”-speak. We elect our Presidents based on what they say they are going to do, and the current President is trying to address a problem that is recognized by so many as needing serious fixing.

    The idea that health care is not currently rationed FOR THE INSURED is laughable. I pay $856 per month out of pocket for my private, personal health insurance, and when I needed it this year – a sports-related Achilles tendon rupture – the insurer first denied all coverage of a two-night hospital visit awaiting possible surgery, and the reason given was that “there was still blood flow in my foot.” No doctor wrote that, it was a bean-counter whose job is to deny, deny, deny coverage all the time for any claim, which then the hospital and insured need to spend time and resources to fight, until the insurance company pays. That’s the profit incentive working in direct counter-point to the well being and health of the patient. When I tried follow-up care with the surgeon, he was ‘out-of-network” and the care would not be covered, so my choice of doctor was denied and I had to find an insurance company-approved doctor not of my choosing. My primary care provider has dropped all insurance plans because they were bleeding him dry, so now we have to pretend that I have another primary care provider in order for me to get any tests or other “in-network” treatment covered.

    What planet are you on to think that this is “the greatest health care system in the world” or to pretend that some kind of monster called “Obamacare” is going to limit your “choice” under the proposed changes or pull the plug on granny? The scary future you describe is the present private system, and my stories are nothing compared to what’s happening to millions of people right now under a system that above all insures a steady flow of profits more than a steady delivery of excellent care and “choice.”

    By the way, I just received a letter stating that my insurance premium is going up to $973 per month November 1st “due to a rapid rise in health care costs in the region.” This is almost an annual phenomenon, and it’s completely controlled by my profit-seeking insurer. I have no say. At least with a public option, I’d have a vote and accountable elected officials. With my insurer, I have some very slick, extremely well-paid corporate leaders whose corporate structure and compensation packages stack revenue streams from millions of premiums in their personal favor, always. They never add in these letters “…and to insure a steady high rate of profit for our company.” No need.

  33. As an employer of nearly 30 people I know we need health care and nobody but the Democrats have put it on their agenda. The private option today is expensive and inefficient. I won’t make the ludicrous claim that I have read the 1018 page health care proposal like some of your other readers. I have read distillations and high points. I say we have to break the current mold and do it differently. That means I am for this health plan or any better one that can be enacted.

  34. Gordon: I’ll thank you to stop putting words in my mouth. You cannot convince me, sarcastically or otherwise that HR 3200, which not even Evelyn Woods could read in the 72 hours allotted Congress back in August (not to mention the cadre of $500-per-hour attorneys she would need to UNDERSTAND it) is the answer to our healthcare woes. Business efficiency experts and doctors, NOT GOVERNMENT, need to fix this mess. It’s just plain stupid to replace something that isn’t working with something WORSE that isn’t working!

  35. I have to disagree with this thread. Our small business’ premiums went up by 20% after a year in which my family visited the Doctor 5 times total.

    If we increase competition, governance and hold the threat of their members switching to the government run system, Humana (current provider) would have something to lose.

  36. How about a simple solution of calculating what the average costs are to supply Medicare and offering a buy-in. No additional beauracracy needs to be created. Should also bring down the per-capita Medicare costs.

  37. Sonya Fernandes

    Everyone is so busy fussing over the effect…. instead of focusing on illness, why are we not focusing on the causes. Please do not point to “Cancer research” That is an industry unto itself. there are so many alternative health care possibilities and books and films and documentaries on them available.

    When the fish and wildlife in a lake start getting sick, do we bring them into the doctors office and give them a prescription? Or do we send a team of scientists to find out what’s in the food and water?

    its all very basic and very simple, as all of life is in the end. This is just more smoke and mirrors, used to keep everyone’s focus off what is really going on in the food, water and drug industry. The inconvenient truth of it all. Maybe everyone should pay 100% for themselves. then maybe they will think twice before they stick that yellow dyed processed cheese in their mouth!

  38. Esther: So you propose that the government should step back and not do anything? Isn’t that what’s been happening for the past – what 40 years? Hasn’t gotten better has it? Any bill that goes into sufficient detail to deal with an issue this large and important is going to have to be lengthy – unlike the last Republican budget proposal which was laughable in its brevity and generalities. If “business efficiency experts” and doctors have solutions that’s great. The more great ideas that are proposed, the better. But in the end the government will have a very big role in both getting reform and in overseeing the insurance industry.

  39. You can control health care costs. You will just get health care that is not as good. That will be the end result.

    For example, a cancer treatment that is only effective in 7% of the cases that’s very expensive. This will be eliminated because of the cost-to-benefit ratio, if you beleive otherwise you are being unrealistic.

    Place limitations on cancelling coverage and denying coverage, preexisting conditions should be allowed if you have had health insurance. If not you get treatment anyway and have to claim bankruptcy for being irresponsible. No insurance for illegal aliens that is just stupid.

    Add tort reform to offset this and we are all set. Americans should be wary of a government with too much power, we need to rely less on government (republican or democrat) and more on ourselves.

  40. I am tired of hearing complaints about greedy corporations! The health insurance industry works on an incredibly small profit margin. Don’t believe me, check out http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_otfwl2zc6Qc/SoMLoWBKM4I/AAAAAAAAK4g/wKdZyg5LxQ0/s1600-h/profits.bmp. Also, the top three health insurance providers in Oregon are non-profits (Blue Cross, Pacific Source, and Kaiser Permanente).

    Our government, all parties included, blames big corporate greed, and then turns around and gives them our tax dollars! Show me a successful social program by our government and I’ll consider the plan. I can show you many successful private enterprises. Here’s a really cool one http://www.pjtv.com/v/2331.

    The late Milton Freedman does the best job of explaining why government run social programs will never work with regard to spending:

    Your money spent on you: you demand highest quality and lowest cost
    Your money spent on someone else: you demand low cost quality less important
    Somebody else’s money spent on you: you demand highest quality, cost less important
    Somebody else’s money spent on someone else: you don’t demand quality or cost

    Nobody spends your money better than you. Put the control back in the hands of the consumer.

    Also, health insurance should be for catastrophic events only. Then we won’t be paying for hypochondriacs like my sister!

  41. Testimony of Wendell Potter, Philadelphia, PA Before the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation
    June 24, 2009

    My name is Wendell Potter and for 20 years, I worked as a senior executive at health insurance companies, and I saw how they confuse their customers and dump the sick — all so they can satisfy their Wall Street investors.

    I know from personal experience that members of Congress and the public have good reason to question the honesty and trustworthiness of the insurance industry. Insurers make promises they have no intention of keeping, they flout regulations designed to protect consumers, and they make it nearly impossible to understand — or even to obtain — information we need. As you hold hearings and discuss legislative proposals over the coming weeks, I encourage you to look very closely at the role for-profit insurance companies play in making our health care system both the most expensive and one of the most dysfunctional in the world. I hope you get a real sense of what life would be like for most of us if the kind of so-called reform the insurers are lobbying for is enacted.

    A few months after I joined the health insurer CIGNA Corp. in 1993, just as the last national health care reform debate was underway, the president of CIGNA’s health care division was one of three industry executives who came here to assure members of Congress that they would help lawmakers pass meaningful reform. While they expressed concerns about some of President Clinton’s proposals, they said they enthusiastically supported several specific goals.

    Those goals included covering all Americans; eliminating underwriting practices like pre-existing condition exclusions and cherry-picking; the use of community rating; and the creation of a standard benefit plan. Had the industry followed through on its commitment to those goals, I wouldn’t be here today.

    Today we are hearing industry executives saying the same things and making the same assurances. This time, though, the industry is bigger, richer and stronger, and it has a much tighter grip on our health care system than ever before. In the 15 years since insurance companies killed the Clinton plan, the industry has consolidated to the point that it is now dominated by a cartel of large for-profit insurers.

    Read the rest here:

    http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/07102009/potter_testimony.html

  42. I agree that low co-pays are a serious problem. I have no co-pay and a 2500.00 deductible before my insurance pays anything. My family is healthly and I still pay 11,000 a year in premiums.

    What angers me is that I bet my premiums help cover the person that went to my doctor the other day with three(count them three mosquito bites) and had a $20 dollar co-pay. Get real people!

    Eliminating these $20 co-pays would be a good start.
    Tort reform must also be done.

    This system need rebuilt from the ground up. I’m am not into just throwing public money at this issue and hope they can make changes as we go to fix it. Lets fix the underlying issues. I only mentioned two.

  43. I beleive everyone is missing the point here. Health care needs reformed no doubt, but not by more government control, but less. Remove obstructive combersome government regulations and the problem will begin to resolve itself. Allow competitive free enterprise to flourish and costs will get lower as with any industry. Insurance companies want the business and will compete for it if the consumer was allowed to shop any where in the nation. Government incentives and tax cuts would all contribute to lowering costs. I say fix the problem by doing what Americans do best in the private sector and let the government be the watch dog not the manager. Obamas health care plan is nothing more then big government takeover of another industry in America. It has very little to do with better and more reasonable healthcare and more to do with control of another facet of American life. The government is horrible at managing anything and 90% of the people feel that and know that, so why are we continuing a debate over nationalized health care. We all want the same thing so why not pursue this from another prespective of less government, not more. That by the way is what so many people are fighting for ( Less, not more Government ). All want the same health care benefits and cost control but from two camps —- Americans are the best in the world at creating human comforts and equility. Just look around. We can still do it.

  44. What ever happened to Mutual Companies? We still use one and this year we recieved a dividend check for about 20% of our paid premiums. We really needed it this year. This was because the losses were not as large as anticipated. If we were with a Publicly traded company those would have been lost premiums gone to pay big corporate bounus for making the stockholders money.

  45. Michael Kinsley

    When I hear such myths repeated — for example, “we have the best health care system in the world” — I am further disappointed by the business constituency. Our system may be excellent for the rich, but by all objective standards, it ranks very low among industrialized nations; its a failure that continues to decline. That said, there are legitimate issues to work through in order to achieve a good system. But when I hear intelligent business people base their opinions on a suite of myths and political superstition, I wonder at their capacity to do business. It is incumbent on BusinessBrief.com to bring factual information on this important issue to this important constituency.

  46. As a small business owner, we need to make health care more affordable to employees and the current system is definitely not working. It continues to increase at a rate greater than inflation. We need a change to be able to compete with the the big corporations that use their group health insurance plan as way to keep the employee under control.

  47. For all you people who don’t understand the ERISA laws, all employees of a company get the same health coverage. The boss doesn’t get better coverage than the janitor, sorry to burst your bubble.

  48. and Gordon: you didn’t answer any of my questions. Why? Because you can’t. You can’t just pick one or two or three industries and tell them they have a cap on salaries. then give bailout money to all the rest that YOU think deserve it. Oh, does being ‘in bed with the unions’ have anything to do with Obama’s health care plan and bailout plans? hmmm.

  49. THIS IS SO STUPID… BUSINESS HAS NO PROBLEM TAKING TAX PAYER DOLLARS TO BAIL THEM OUT FROM THEIR STUPID MISTAKES BUT WHEN THE AMERICAN PEOPLE NEED BUSINESS, WHERE IS BUSINESS. THIS IS TELLING.

    WAKE UP! YOU ARE PRIVILEDGED TO DO BUSINESS IN AMERICA. WHEN IS AMERICAN BUSINESS GOING TO BE MORE ABOUT MAKING A PROFIT. THIS IS VERY SAD. AMERICAN BUSINESS TOOK BILLIONS FROM THE VERY WORKERS THEY NOW DONT WANT TO PAY FOR. I WANT MY MONEY BACK FROM BUSINESS!

  50. A recent survey of 160 employers revealed that MOST of the BOSSES BELIEVE HEALTHCARE REFORM WILL LEAD TO higher healthcare costs and A WEAKENING OF CONTROL OVER how employers provide coverage to WORKERS.

    Sometimes the truth is between the lines…..

  51. While attempting to sort out the healthcare/insurance situation, the one fact that I know for sure is that the faith-based not-for-profit of which I am CEO can no longer provide healthcare and disability for the employees. Many of the employees are minimum wage with the highest hourly at under $15.00. By the way, my annual salary is under $46,000 and I have been there over 30 years.
    At the same time, the Board and I aren’t wallowing in self-pity, but rather looking at new ways to increase our cash in order to afford whatever comes out of the healthcare reform.

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