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Like a jealous lover, the insurance industry doesn’t want you to be able to get health insurance from anyone, even if they turned you down

Instead of a “healthy” debate, the arguments against health care reform are becoming more and more bizarre. I’ve already talked about the fact that even though most people are in favor of single-payer health insurance, our representatives are so owned by the insurance companies (who are paying off politicians with the money they have been ripping off from us) that they are not allowed to even mention single-payer as a possibility.

But it gets even weirder from there. Now the insurance industry is trying to kill the idea of even giving you a choice of a public option. Who could be against the idea of giving you a choice of either keeping your existing health insurance, or having the option of a government-run insurance plan (especially to people who have been turned down for insurance)? We are talking about something like Medicare, but which would be available to all those people that private insurance companies refuse to cover. If we can’t have the single-payer system we want, could this be a reasonable compromise?

But like a jealous lover, the insurance industry doesn’t want you to be able to get health insurance from anyone, even if they turn you down! Take the recent argument from Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa). Grassley argues that a public insurance option would be so popular — that people would prefer it so much over private insurance — that it cannot be permitted. The private insurance industry is so important (at least to his campaign contributions) that he would prefer that people die rather than give them the choice of a public plan!

Next is the attack ad being run by the double-speak group Conservatives for Patients’ Rights (CPR), who bizarrely warn you that giving you a choice of a public plan would actually deny you the “choice” of being ripped off by private insurance companies. Seriously! I guess this should not be a surprise, since the leader of CPR is a former health insurance CEO who was forced out of his job after his company committed the largest health over-billing fraud case in history, not to mention that the PR firm that created the ad is the same company that came up with the “Swift boat” attack ads against Kerry in 2004.

So if the health insurance companies can’t come up with any actual, valid arguments against a public option, what can they do? How about a Republican website that says:

Obama and Hitler have a great deal in common … Say NO to the Obamination of Obama Care!

Yup, if calling a public option socialism doesn’t work, they escalate to calling it fascism! Are you afraid yet? Of course, Obama has no problem debunking the myth that the secret evil socialist purpose of a public option is to put private insurance companies out of business.

Another tactic is to simply deny that there is any public support for a public option. Recently, Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) did just that, claiming that all those polls that show overwhelming support for a public option must be wrong, using a statistical argument that was immediately debunked.

But the lies don’t stop there. Opponents of a public option still claim that a public plan would be subsidized by your tax dollars, which they say would give it an unfair advantage over private insurance. But this is simply false. The only subsidies that are being proposed would go to individuals and families, who could then use them on their choice of insurance (either private or public). In an excellent article, Robert Reich goes through the arguments being thrown out against a public option and debunks them.

So what can be done about this? Plenty! First, pass around this article about a former insurance industry insider who testified to Congress about all the ways that private insurance companies rip people off. Second, give support to groups that expose representatives who lie about health insurance reform. Finally, and most importantly, contact your own representatives. The only way to counteract all the pressure that is being put on them from the powerful insurance industry is for them to hear from us, the people who are suffering from substandard health care. Tell them you’re angry and you’re not going to take it any more!

Stuart Carlson
© Stuart Carlson

UPDATE: The right continues to lie about health care reform, and the media is letting them get away with it.

UPDATE 2: A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine indicates that our current health system isn’t working even for people who have adequate insurance.



  1. Norris Hall wrote:

    Like many Americans I am wondering: If publicly provided health insurance is such a bad thing…why do most legislators have a public plan

    We taxpayers pays a significant portion of each legislators insurance approximately…. 75 percent of the premiums. The legislator pays approximately 25%. How does that compare to most employer contributions?

    Under 2009 Fee For Service health plans a congressman and his family , regardless of age and health condition can get a standard family plan from Blue Cross and Blue Shield for $1120 a month in premiums. Of that, the taxpayer picks up $763 of the cost, leaving the Congressman to pay $356 out of pocket

    So what do other Americans have to pay??

    My wife and I are in our 60’s.
    We are self employed and pay ALL our own health insurance premiums. No employer contributions. No pretaxed benefits
    Being 60 our health is not perfect. My wife has a pacemaker, takes medications for osteoporosis and high cholesterol.
    So here’s the only insurance plan that people like us can afford with Blue Shield
    Premiums=$900 per month
    Deductible=$8000 per year
    Essentially our health insurance doesn’t provide anything but protection. We pay for everything out of pocket

    The problem with most legislators is they have very little idea of how tough it is out in the real world to get affordable insurance coverage. They live in ivory towers where they get a paycheck every month…no matter how bad the economy…and where their benefits are subsidized by the same US taxpayers that are struggling to make ends meet.

    The federal plan is one of the best health plans out there. According to the US office of Personnel Management, ” Federal employees, retirees and their survivors enjoy the widest selection of health plans in the country.” With millions of federal employees, they can bargain with insurance companies for the best rates. Preexisiting conditions are no problem for legislators. And with taxpayers picking up the majority of their premiums, the cost of health care becomes a minor issue.
    Compare that to the millions of self employed Americans out there who struggle to pay exorbitant premiums while getting little heath care in return…and you can see why so many Americans are mad as hell…especially since some legislators are doing everything they can to oppose any real health care reform and to keep things the way they are.
    Add to that an economy that has turned most self employed people into the unrecognized “unemployed”

    As long as legislators get guaranteed taxpayer subsidized health care, they aren’t likely to comprehend what is really going on out there in the real world.
    No wonder many legislators think that health care in America is just fine. If I had a cushy “publicly funded” health care plan like members of Congress I probably wouldn’t be concerned either

    Wasn’t it Marie Antoinette who said of the masses of starving Parisians “If they have no food, let them eat cake”

    Tuesday, July 7, 2009 at 2:37 pm | Permalink
  2. notb4now wrote:

    The health insurance industry in the U. S. traces its beginning to the depression of the 1930’s. Americans were outraged by the deaths of citizens at the doors of hospitals. There was not any money to provide the care. Hospitals needed help. Business, churches and, individuals put up the money to start not for profit health insurance. Caring individuals started these companies to help their fellow man. As time progressed the profit motive got control and here we are with a system that does not serve anyone.

    Tuesday, July 28, 2009 at 10:55 pm | Permalink

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